Welcome to Eater's 2011 Gift Guide Advent Calendar, where every day friends of Eater will be bringing you holiday gift ideas — from the reasonable to the outrageous to the mindblowing must-haves. Click the graphic below to unveil today's pick, and as the holidays draw nearer check out the all the gift guides.
Here now, Le Bernardin executive pastry chef Michael Laiskonis on his picks:
Digital Scale: It may seem pedestrian, but a simple scale could represent a major shift in the way we cook at home (and in turn, how chefs and food writers write their recipes). It's high time we finally dump all the cups and tablespoons in favor of metric weights. We can do it.
Moleskine Notebooks: I'm not suggesting that every young cook has profound ideas worthy of leaving behind for posterity, but all of my pastry cooks are required to keep a notebook handy (even though we all keep our recipe archives on our iPhones now). These are nice to look at — and compact — and a thoughtful cook will blow though them quickly.
Vita-Prep Blender/Mortar and Pestle: Okay, my fantasy gift is still a Thermomix, but the Vita-Prep is almost as useful, and a but more accessible (and they make a mini model for home use). At the same time, the original low-tech food processor, a mortar and pestle, still has relevance in today's kitchen. You can be both a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.
Robert Laffont Series: Though I'm sure most good little girls and boys are hoping santa sends the six-volume Modernist Cuisine down the chimney, I'm looking further back in time: I covet the long out-of-print Robert Laffont series from the nouvelle cuisine masters. Chapel, Maximin, Gagnaire, Robuchon, and others, each contributed a volume. These are the giants upon whose shoulders we cook today.
Trannon Culinary Bags: I'm a chef who travels a lot, and I usually have to lug around a bunch of equipment and ingredients. Lucky for me, I discovered Vaughn Trannon's line of bags- and mine has now logged thousands of miles.
Mini-Offset Spatula: I seem to go through these things like ball point pens; I always have one (literally) in my back pocket. It's a multi-purpose tool that I just can't live without.
· Digital Scales [Amazon]
· All Michael Laiskonis Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All 2011 Eater Gift Guides [-E-]