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Holiday Gifting: Last minute gift ideas for the home chef

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When it comes to home chefs, there are a couple of things we all have in common: We love food and we love good equipment to create that food in. Equipment absolutely makes the cook, in my humble opinion. For example, how can you create a perfectly diced onion without a perfectly sharp knife?

That's not to say that we need loads of stuff or the highest priced. A kitchen equipped with a great knife, cutting board, top of the line food processor, electric or manual, a good skillet that goes from stove-top to oven, 2-burner griddle and/or grill pan, sauce pan with lid, baking sheets and a mixer, hand and/or stand and if you want to really appear gourmet; a torch, these few items will just about take care of anything you are likely to cook. Everything else is gravy.

To that end, and with many of us having last minute Holiday Gifting to do, I thought I would make a list of fantastic kitchen products – products I use in my test kitchen - that will help you, or the home chef on your shopping list, to become a better cook.

These are items I've tested myself, some of them year after year; items that always pass the tests for usability, wearability, decorability (I'm making up words here!) and affordability. Check them out, I've linked to all of them.

Wustof Knives – sharpest knife I've ever had.

Boos Blocks – the absolute best cutting boards available.

Cuisinart Food Processor, hand and stand mixers, blenders, microwaves and most anything else you need in counter top appliances

Pampered Chef Manual Food Processor - Just drop in ingredients and pump the handle to chop and slice in seconds. The more you pump, the finger the cuts. Includes a handle lock for storage, measure marks for easy measuring and nonskid base for stability. Vessel and blade post are dishwasher-safe.

Anolon or Circulon Professional Level Cookware – for saucepans, skillets, baking sheets and griddle pans.

Cake Boss Chef's Torch – this is optional, but so much fun! Cake Boss has all the baking needs you could ever want.

More Pampered Chef Goodies:

· Microwave Chip MakerMake oil-free, homemade chips in just minutes. Large silicone plates can be used alone or stacked. Try potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples and more! Dishwasher-safe.

· Simple SlicerIf only everything in life was this simple! Slide the food holder onto the track, attach your veggies or fruit, and slide back and forth for perfect slices. The blade adjusts to three thicknesses – 1/16”, 1/8” and 3/16”. Safety lock on the handle raises the body so the blade isn’t exposed when stored. Use over a bowl or cutting board; nonskid feed keep it steady. Dishwasher-safe.

· Spiral & SliceSpiral-cut your veggies for a new spin on salads, sandwiches and side dishes. Spiral-cut potatoes and onions are to-die-for when deep-fried! Just pop veggies in the base, push on the plunger and twist away for spirals. Use the divider to make half-slices of veggies like zucchini, carrots, celery and pepper strips. Put all your salad fixings in each well and slice right into the bowl. Dishwasher-safe.

· Veggie WedgerCut onions, potatoes and citrus fruits into six wedges in one quick motion. Simply place food on the base and use ergonomic handles to press a serrated stainless blade through the food. Includes nonskid base. Dishwasher-safe.

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