Plato Putas is all about spreading the holiday cheer, especially when it’s related to food. We’re asking some of the most beloved chefs and food lovers about the best gifts to give…and get.

Best Gourmet Food Item to Give
I love Maldon Salt, even though I have a whole shelf in my cabinet dedicated to salts (it’s a problem). It’s very simple and available at Whole Foods, but I think lots of people still aren’t hip to it. It’s so feathery, flaky and crispy. It makes anything taste amazing. Sprinkle on salads, finish meats, and even desserts like caramels love this salt. You can put it in a fancy bottle to make it look prettier, but every time I see that white and green box I get excited anyway.

If your giftee has already experienced the salt revolution, try blending teas and spices together or making granola. Too lazy? Try Early Bird Granola from Brooklyn Flea or make custom hot chocolate mixes (include a small bottle of booze for sexy, hot chocolate action). I always like homemade gifts best.

Best Cookbook to Give
One of the books that I think is handiest is The Food Lover’s Companion. It is a chunky little food dictionary and something everyone interested in food should have around. They have updated it since I bought mine many years ago, so I’m sure it continues to be super-comprehensive, easy-to-navigate and not as wordy and intimidating as the Larousse Gastronomique (amazing book as well!). Learn the difference between chapati and chapon.

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee is a much more detailed, insane and scientific review of food and what its properties and functions are. Also, I think Mark Bittman‘s recipes are easy-to-follow, mutable and technique-driven which is helpful for people new to cooking. Fantasy books like Heston Blumenthal’s giant Fat Duck cookbook are great to look at just for ideas on what’s possible.

Best Kitchen Gadget to Give
I love a great fish spatula. They are webbed (don’t pick up extra grease), curved to fit inside a saute pan and flexible and really help to move food around without destroying lovely seared crusts and things. Tongs and other spatulas are so brutal sometimes! Also, lots of people are fish-a-tarians these days and this is a tool many don’t know about (but please feel free to use with lamb chops, delicate pancakes and other treats). Don’t skimp and buy the cheapo ones, I buy Peltex from France. It’s so bendy and gentle and available at Bridge Kitchenware.

On My Wish List
A bottle of Del Maguey Chichicapa Single Village Mezcal. It is so flavorful, conscientiously produced and delicious and could have me and my friends sipping and feeling groovy all winter long. Perfect for a night in or before a night out. It’s available at

Tessa Liebman is the executive chef of Shiraz Events in New York City. She is also an instructor, writer and food stylist living in her native Brooklyn. When not in the kitchen, she can be found poking around markets of all kinds — farmer’s markets, flea markets, night markets and supermarkets around the world.