Gifts for People That Love to Cook and EatOct 31, 2023 09:31AM ● By Sheila Julson
It might seem like the home chef or foodie has every gadget, appliance and all the spices they could ever need. But the culinary arts are in constant motion, so there is always something to discover, learn or try, creating endless gift possibilities for a favorite food enthusiast.
“There’s always something new, and it’s really amazing to see what inventors come up with, or new ways to use a tool that we’ve used for decades,” says Sharon Landis, owner of Zest! kitchen store and cooking school. Zest! stocks an array of kitchen utensils, cookware, small appliances, spices and artisan foods. The cooking school offers themed classes for adults and children of all skill levels.
Zest! carries the Dreamfarm line of easy-to-use kitchen utensils. Their Fluicer line of citrus squeezers are flat-folding, easy-squeeze juicers that use a two-handed sideways pivot that requires less force than traditional dome-shapes juicers. “We also have gadgets such as garlic presses and potato ricers that are designed differently for people that have lost strength in their hands, which happens as we age,” says Landis.
The current scratch-made pasta trend has led to an uptick in sales of pasta-making machines, Landis observes. Air friers are also very popular. Zest! carries a line of SMEG Italian-made small appliances, known for their elegance and durability. Lodge, a familiar name in American-made cast iron cookware, has recently introduced cast iron Dutch ovens with enamel coating, available at Zest!
Gifts That Please the Palate and Do Good
Zest! expanded their storefront last year to include a complete line of food products by Maine-based Stonewall Kitchen. Popular items include Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. Seasonal offerings include Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, Pumpkin Pancake & Waffle Mix, Spiced Pumpkin Muffin Mix and Caramel Apple Butter.
Stonewall Kitchen’s Fig Jam is popular as a gift or for charcuterie boards used in holiday entertaining. Landis recommends pairing it with goat cheese. The Christmas season also brings Red Pepper Jelly and Hot Pepper Jelly.
With a large assortment of both common and hard-to-find spices used in global cuisine, Zest’s line includes shawarma seasoning; Aleppo pepper; sumac, an ingredient used in the Mediterranean spice blend za'atar; amchur, also known as dried mango powder; tandoori; and panch phoron, an Indian whole spice blend. Shichimi togarashi, a Japanese spice mixture, is another rare find available at Zest! Landis and her staff will make custom gift baskets with spices or Stonewall Kitchen items chosen by customers. She notes that spice gift boxes make good teachers’ gifts.
Most home gourmet chefs can never have enough references. The World Central Kitchen Cookbook, released in September, is the latest project of chef and humanitarian José Andrés. His organization of the same name uses food to empower and uplift communities affected by disasters. Landis will donate 25 percent of the book’s proceeds to the World Central Kitchen.
Zest! gift cards can be used for store merchandise or classes. They are available online or at the store. “We recommend a gift card, as opposed to buying a class for a person—class registration is nonrefundable. With a gift card, the recipient can choose the class when they know they can come.”
Upcoming classes at the cooking school include the new Thanksgiving Make and Take Cooking class on November 22, 2023. Participants will receive everything they need except a turkey to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner to take home and use for the big holiday. “And you don’t have to do the grocery shopping or clean-up,” Landis notes.
December 2023 classes include a Challah and Babka Workshop, in partnership with Food Is Love Lancaster; Celebrate Hannukah; Date Night; Traditional Ukrainian Christmas and New Year; and Elegant Cookie Decorating Extravaganza.
Landis is a firm believer in constant improvement. Beginning in January, the main storefront of Zest! will be closed for approximately two weeks for remodeling and updates. The Stonewall Kitchen and Spice Shop sections of the store, which have a separate entrance, will remain open during that time. She says, “We enjoy that we are in constant movement. We’re constantly getting better and offering better. We’ve built a brand, but continue to evolve to serve our customers.”