Gift ideas for those who love to cook

December 2, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The Hungry Hound has been doing some shopping, and he has found a store with something at every price point.

Shopping for loved ones who love to cook can be daunting. Do you really want to give someone a spatula? But Sur la Table is all about the home cook, and today we're getting some help with a range of kitchen gift items, broken down into three different price categories.

Finding that perfect gift for the cook in your life can be daunting. But if you have ever stepped foot in a Sur la Table store you will soon realize there is something for everyone -- at every price point.

"We are a destination for home cooks. We have all the cookware, cutlery, coffee and gadgets that you could possibly want," said Rochelle Taylor, a Manager at Sur La Table.

We asked Taylor to show us three options for prices. The first category: 20 bucks or less, and the first suggestion, s'mores grilling set.

"You can make s'mores as a family right on your grill. Whether you go grill in the snow or you wait for warmer weather," she said.

A new spice mill also makes grinding a lot easier.

"You can use it on peppercorns, you can use it on spices, you can use it on flax seeds. It has a ceramic grinder in it, and the output is amazing for very minimal effort," said Taylor.

Taking a cue from a traditional mezzaluna, these salad shears are less than 10 bucks.

"You simply rock it back and forth and it's meant to cut lettuce without bruising it," she said.

Baking enthusiasts will love this new pan from Chicago Metallic.

"All these spikes hold something in place whether it be a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, or whether it be a maraschino cherry, whether it be a ball of cookie dough. You put your batter around it and you bake it and it holds it in place so that when it's done it's perfectly in the middle of your cupcake," said Taylor.

A new batter whisk combines a spoon and a whisk in one, and the hole at the bottom puts more air into the batter, making it fluffier.

In the $20 to $50 range, Taylor loves this new spill stopper, for anyone who has ever boiled pasta.

"This flower is designed to let the water come up, and then it'll sit right on here so it doesn't spill over on your stovetop. When you turn off the burner the water will go right back into the pot," she said.

"This is a great gadget for someone who likes wine. It's a combination of the rabbit corkscrew which is considered by many to be the most simple and most efficient corkscrew out there. And it also has an aerator."

And for the kid in everyone...a cotton candy maker.

"So there's three different flavor of sugars and colors, there's a blue and a pink and a purple. And you can make your own cotton candy at home; you don't have to wait for the state fair," she said.

Finally, in the over $50 category, a couple of workhorses in the kitchen:

"Scanpan has been very successful. We're one of the few retailers in the U.S. that carries this line. It has a non-stick lining that can go in the oven up to 500 degrees and you can use metal utensils in it," said Taylor.

"This one, you don't have to make your own cappuccino, it makes it for you. You simply pop in a pod, you fill it with milk, you hit a button... it'll steam and froth the milk and make the espresso perfectly in the same cup all at once."

There is one more place the Hungry Hound loves to shop for kitchen items: Northwestern Cutlery, tucked below the Green Line at Halsted and Lake. A lot of local cooks shop there, and they have an incredible knife selection, including a wonderful knife sharpening service.

Sur la Table
755 W. North Ave.

55 South Main Street Space 143
Naperville, IL

2171 Northbrook Court
Northbrook, IL

449 Oakbrook Center
Oakbrook, IL

100 W. Higgins Rd. Space R-13
South Barrington, IL

Also mentioned:

Northwestern Cutlery
810 W. Lake St.

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