Culinary stocking stuffer ideas | Chef Dez

By Chef Dez | Dec 02, 2013

Being a man, I am sometimes mistakenly slotted into the stereotype of a last-minute shopper.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Hurriedly pushing my way through the crowds at the mall on Dec. 24 is not how I want to spend Christmas Eve.

Therefore, to help you avoid this ordeal I am offering you some stocking stuffer ideas for the hobby chef on your list.

Zester - This hand tool removes the aromatic, colored segment of the peel from citrus fruits while leaving the white bitter pith part on the fruit.

Great for adding extra citrus flavor to almost any recipe, or to enhance garnishing presentation.

Mini Whisk - About the same size as a ball point pen.

It always comes in handy for small whisking applications like mixing individual drinks, beating one egg or small amounts of sauce.

I have even seen ones that are attached to a key chain hoop.

Melon Baller - Great for its intended purpose of creating bite-size balls of melon, but works just as well on cheeses and an assortment of fruits and vegetables.

Caramelized balls of potato, for example, make an appealing side dish.

Olive Pitter - This tool resembles a pair of spring-loaded pliers. It has a circular base to hold an olive on one end and a prod on the other.

When squeezed together, the prod inserts into the olive and pushes the pit through the opposite side. It works great on cherries too.

Garlic Press - I have gone through many poorly made garlic presses in the past, but there is one brand that has never let me down.

I highly recommend the Swiss-made Zyliss brand. I have literally crushed hundreds of cloves with this brand, for the past five years, without fail.

Apple Corer - Simply push this tubular tool through the center of an apple or pear, and proceed with slicing or eating.

Butcher's Twine - Not only great for trussing stuffed turkeys, but also for chickens and a variety of stuffed roasts, meats and seafood too.

Silicone Spatula - Silicone kitchen tools like spatulas and bowl scrapers are great because they can withstand high heat temperatures and they are very flexible.

Fantastic for omelets, where ones made of rubber or plastic would melt in the hot pan.

Dough Scraper - A flat-edged tool that easily scrapes dough or flour together on the counter.

They are available in metal or plastic and are great for anyone who likes to bake.

Lemon Reamer - A wooden hand-held tool, used to efficiently juice lemons or limes.

I hope this helps relieve some of your shopping burdens. The kitchen section of department stores and smaller specialty stores are filled with many great gift ideas. Who knows, you may even run into me!

Dear Chef Dez,

I noticed that many chefs on television use a flat grater that lies across a bowl to remove zest from citrus fruits. Is the best way to do this?

Charlotte E.

Surrey, BC

Dear Charlotte,

I actually recommend using a zester. It is a hand tool that has five little circular blades at the end. When it is dragged across a citrus fruit, it produces beautiful curls of zest while leaving the bitter pith behind. Although flat graters remove the zest in small bits, and thus prevent further chopping, there is no guarantee that one will not grate too far into the bitter white pith. Besides, the curls of zest make great garnish.

Chef Dez is a food columnist, culinary instructor and cooking show performer. Visit him at Send your food/cooking questions to or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4.


Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.