Ask a ________ is Grilla Grills new series of blog posts where we will ask pitmaster’s, chef’s, brewers, distillers and other grill/food enthusiasts about some of our favorite topics. We’ll cover everything from favorite foods, old school recipe’s, gift ideas, personal stories and everything in between.
This time, we’re talking with Professional Chef Sean Vodden! Sean is Sous Chef at Stratus, a restaurant in Toronto, Ontario. He competes in BBQ competition in the U.S and calls himself a Pitmaster-in-Training!
The first thing that came to mind for Sean when thinking about holiday gifts for the cooking enthusiast in your life was one particular cook book that’s gotten him through years of cooking. The Flavor Bible is different than most cook books in that instead of offering recipes for people to cook, it offers insights into how better use specific ingredients.
“This book is such an incredible source of knowledge and inspiration for any chef. (It offers) chefs the spark to pair food with ingredients that will elevate the profile of the ingredient being used.”Sean Vodden
With literally thousands of ingredient entries the book offers deep insights into how best to pair flavors for any meal. Sean says this book, written by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, is a perfect gift for anyone who cooks. He said whether they’re prepping for a world championship, or just getting ready for a family dinner, this book will have what you need.
If you’re looking for recipe’s to try out with the knowledge you’ll learn from this book, don’t forget to check out Grilla Grills plethora of free recipe’s on our blog.
While not necessarily a gift you can put your hands on, Sean says a culinary experience is a favorite gift idea of his. These can vary wildly depending on your area and your preferences. Anything from wine tastings, to brewery tours, private dinners or cooking classes can all fit under this umbrella of gifts.
“In many cities there are incredible pockets of delicious and mouth watering food and drinks you may not know about. Maybe it’s a day trip to a vineyard, brewery or distillery that opens up your palate to a new hand crafted bourbon ”Sean Vodden
One of the nice things about this type of gift is that it opens up a person to new experiences that might spark a new interest. If you know someone that likes a particular type of alcohol, send them to a vineyard, brewery or distillery to try and find a new favorite beverage. Maybe your friend likes a particular type of food, sign them up for a cooking class that will help them learn how to make it themselves.
The third gift on our list is one that will serve whoever receives it for the next decade or more! A quality cast iron pan should be the foundation of any prospective chef’s kitchen.
“A high quality 10-inch cast iron pan is a legacy piece of cookware in any chef’s arsenal. My cast iron pan is at least 10 years old, and by taking care of it I know I’ll be cooking with it for years.”Brent Bourland – Bee’s Knees
While they can run a pretty penny if you’re looking for a brand new pan for a loved one, this is a gift that will stand the test of time and never devalue as long as it’s taken care of well.
Another benefit to using cast iron is the versatility the medium provides. You can cook anything from bacon for breakfast, risotto for lunch, vegetables for dinner and brownies for dessert on it.
Our penultimate gift is something that people generally don’t think of when they start coming up with gift ideas. A quality set of whetstones is a gift that will keep someone smiling in the kitchen for years to come. Every person has a favorite knife they like to use more than any other, and this gift will ensure they get to use that knife for as long as possible.
“Every Chef I know has their favorite knife. No matter what the knife is, it needs to stay sharp to be effective. A set of sharpening whetstones will keep that knife razor sharp.”Sean Vodden
If you’re not sure where to start with a set of whetstones, Sean says to start with 1000 and 4000 grit stones. He said 1000 grit stones are to help remove small knicks and notches in the knife. The 4000 grit stone is what will make sure the knife has a razor sharp edge for years to come.
The final gift on Sean’s list is one that most people will overlook this holiday season. Most people already have a coffee maker and generally go for the simplicity afforded by companies with single-use pods. However, when it comes to quality, there are few ways to get better flavor out of your coffee than going with an old fashioned french press.
“This may seem like a simple gift for the chef in your life, but creating mouth watering dishes takes a lot of energy, and what better way to recharge then with hot, fresh brewed coffee.”Sean Vodden
Something nice about this gift is that a top of line french press is still going to cost less than $50, so there will most likely be a bit of money left in your budget to grab them a bag of nice coffee, an electric coffee grinder, or a special coffee mug.
Still have a few bucks left over in the budget, after picking up a french press? Pick up a Grilla Grills beanie hat!
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