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 Kitchen Gadget to Give
We’ve learned from experience that most gadgets are really stupid, but one thing we can no longer live without is our vac-sealer at the shop. It dramatically improves fridge and freezer life, it’s great for marinating, and it’s fun as hell.

We have an industrial model at the shop, but we did some digging around and a few people have told us that the models you can get at places like The Bay and Costco will do the trick too. For serious nerds who want the industrial version, try Nella Cucina on Bathurst in Toronto.

Best Gourmet Food Item to Give
Our first thought was Maldon Salt, but someone beat us to it. It really is that good, though. If you’re giving it to a culinary newbie, just make sure they’re using it mostly as a finishing salt and not for boiling pasta or out on the front walk after it snows.

Feeling more adventurous? Buy them a fantastic bottle of wine, and attach a card that says it’ll pair perfectly with the meal you’re going to cook for them in the New Year. Unless they don’t drink, there is nobody who wouldn’t love that gift. Plus you’ll get to drink some of the hero wine. For that reason alone, don’t cheap out.

On the subject of not cheaping out, a lot of people will drop $40 on a bottle of wine that’s gone in half an hour, but look at you like you’re crackers if you spend the same amount on a bottle of olive oil that will last you a few months. Fix this problem by buying somebody a good bottle. They’ll thank you for it.

Best Cookbook to Give
If cookbooks were crack, we’d be Whitney Houston, so we could never name just one. The River Cottage Meat Book is pretty fun. There’s a lot of great info and some pretty wacky recipes in that one. Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio is a great resource — no sexy food shots or glossy paper, but that’s part of what makes it cool.

Closer to home, be sure to check out Good Food for All. It’s the first cookbook put out by The Stop Community Centre, so when you buy it, you’re also helping a worthy cause. (We have some copies available at the store.) Also be sure to check out From Earth to Table, by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann. It’s great for anyone who wants to learn what “slow food” is all about — it’s already become sort of a bible for the movement. Again, we have some copies at the store — and they’re even signed!

On Our Wish List
Lunch in Provence, all expenses paid, please and thanks! Seriously, we live and breathe food, and we get stuff wholesale, so we don’t want any food-related gifts. Are you listening, Mom? Wine is always welcome.

Greg Bolton and Liz Dnieper Bolton make up the husband-and-wife team that runs Pantry, a fine food take-out, grocery and caterer at College and Dovercourt in Toronto. Pantry’s kitchen is helmed by Chef Eric Walker, and specializes in local & sustainable comfort food. Click here to experience our exclusive guided tour of Pantry, courtesy of Greg .

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