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
Forget the department store chocolates that have been shipped from overseas and sitting around in warehouses and on shelves for who knows how long. Forgo the truffles made with oil instead of fresh cream. Go to SOMA and get some real chocolate. This is the only place in Toronto that makes their own chocolate, from the bean, using time-honoured techniques and fresh ingredients. I particularly enjoy the chocolate-covered corn nuts and the cocoa latte bar.

Best Cookbook to Give
The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry by Bo Friberg. I’ve had a copy of this book for about 13 years now and I still refer to it. I keep a copy around at work and at home. It is the go-to reference for all budding bakers. There is also an advanced version for those who have a little more baking experience.

Best Kitchen Gadget to Give
About a year ago I reluctantly bought myself an inexpensive pizza stone. My kitchen, basement and garage are brimming with all sorts of kitchen gadgets and equipment that I have to be very selective with what I buy. I surprisingly use it all the time, but rarely for pizza. It’s great for making rustic artisan type breads, naan, pita, and it’s great for baking fruit pies (no more soggy bottom crust). You can get them at just about any kitchen supply store. While you’re at it, pick up a peel too (the wooden paddle thing for placing and removing things from your stone).

On My Wish List
Lessons. I can never learn enough about food. George Brown has all sorts of special interest courses that anyone can take during evenings and weekends. I’m particularly interested in the new cheese course.

Jennifer Lakhan-D’Souza is a pastry chef, instructor and program developer at George Brown’s Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts. She is in the final stages of developing the Professional Chocolatier Certificate program which starts in January.

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