No doubt you have a serious home cook on your shopping list (you know, the one who employs tweezers in plating dinners at home or loves blow-torching expensive cuts of beef); these days, everybody knows one. It's with this methodical and meticulous connoisseur in mind that we present the following menu of kitchen gadgets and culinary contrivances for your consideration. (Items without specific sourcing information are available online or in stores; prices are approximate.)
1. Ankarsrum Original Kitchen Machine ($699.95)
This durable and powerful all-purpose appliance kneads dough like no other stand mixer out there. With all the additional attachments and accessories, it practically negates the need for a separate food processor, meat grinder or slicer. Lay the mixer on its side and affix the 5-cup-capacity pulverizer, and you won't need a separate blender either.
2. The Original Baking Steel ($89)
The serious home pizzaiolo knows that to make a seriously good pie in your oven, some serious heat needs to be generated, and nothing conducts and transfers heat better than this baking steel. It cooks pizza faster and more evenly than a baking stone, not to mention it's virtually indestructible.
3. Downtown Grill electric hibachi (downtowngrill.com, $299)
I've thought of purchasing this indoor grill for times when Mother Nature wreaks havoc on the best-laid grilling plans. Downtown Grill's electric hibachi has a solid, built-to-last frame and can quick-scorch meat at an impressive 700 degrees. It's like having a restaurant-grade grill on your kitchen countertop.
4. iSi Gourmet Whip
Even those who roll their eyes at the thought of molecular gastronomy will want a nitrous-oxide-charged whipping siphon, like the iSi Gourmet Whip, in their kitchen arsenal to embellish dishes with foams and froths. Plus whipping siphons are also great for creating cold sauces, whipped soups, batters and toppings like, yes, whipped cream. Available in various sizes/prices.
5. Picardie tumblers
Maybe it's the comfortable grip along the ridges, or the timeless styling, but there's just something about these iconic tempered-glass tumblers that makes sipping (and serving) everything from water to lattes to spritzes all the more enjoyable. Plus, they add a certain je ne sais quoi to any Francophile's table setting. Available basically everywhere in a range of prices.
6. Knife set by Michel Bras/Kai (Williams-Sonoma, $2,155-$3,080)
The set of knives developed by legendary French chef Michel Bras and Japanese blade forger Kai aren't just well-made utilitarian cutters – they're works of art. Since acquiring a 3-inch sheep's-foot paring knife and a 6-inch santoku knife last year, I've covetously eyed the other titanium-coated, matte-finished and pakkawood-handled blades in the set.
7. Globe PF10E Electric Deep Fryer ($351)
A grade above the standard deep fryers marketed specifically for home use, this heavy-duty, stainless-steel countertop fryer with a 10-pound capacity can sizzle 10 pounds of fries per hour, frozen to finish. Best of all, clean-up is a cinch with its lift-out fryer pot.
8. Mandoline by Michel Bras/Kai (Williams-Sonoma, $249.95)
If you've got a deep fryer, then a great mandoline, like this beaut from Michel Bras and Kai, lets you waffle-cut, crinkle-cut and julienne your vegetables (not just potatoes!) before frying. Its Japanese steel frame, sturdy rubberized kickstand and crazy-sharp blades make it worth the cost. More than likely, it'll be the only mandoline you'll ever buy.
9. Mellow Immersion Circulator (cookmellow.com; $399)
If you're tired of going the cheapo sous-vide route like me (pot full of simmering water + meat sealed in a freezer bag + thermometer), then Mellow, a soon-to-be-released immersion circulator for the home market, is for you. It has its own refrigeration system, its own self-sealing bags, and its own weight sensor. Just place the food in the bag, drop it in Mellow, then use the app to specify what you're cooking as well as when and how you want it done.