Denver-based DeDee has taught a host of culinary classes. Her current smattering includes Light and Lean: Quick and Easy Meals; The Cutting Edge (knife skills!); What’s in Season? Winter Squash!.

Her passion for natural cooking and organic food (leave out the preservatives, thank you!) has led DeDee to develop a following and students eager for a second helping. Today, she shares her top gift-giving picks this season.

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By DeDee Tong

I can hardly believe that I have been teaching cooking classes for nearly a year! Throughout the year many of my students have expressed a desire to enhance their kitchen collections with equipment that we’ve used during class. Well, ‘tis the season for every aspiring chef to splurge on kitchen gadgets both big and small. Here are a few suggestions that might excite your favorite kitchen maven, too!

DeDee collage

(1) Food Processor

Why spend hours slicing and dicing apples, peaches, pears, and sugar plums when a Food Processor can do the same with a few pluses of the chopping blade? (Insider tip: it makes a fabulous flakey pie crust too.) It has so many uses you’ll wonder how you ever managed without one.

(2) Knife Set

I’ve seen many of your grandmas’ old kitchen knife collections in my knife skills class. No matter how much time you spend honing that blade, you’ll never bring it back to life. Time to look at a new set of Henckels, Wusthof’s, or even Globals. Give that niece who sells Cutco knives a call. They make a sturdy blade with a great ergonomic handle, and you’ll be making a nice contribution to her college fund. I recommend keeping it simple at first with a 4” paring knife, a traditional 10” Chef’s knife or maybe a Santoku. Heck, why not include a handy bread knife and kitchen shears (a must have) to round out the set.

(3) Heavy Duty Mixer

No Kitchen or all star chef is complete without a mixer. I’m the envy of many students when they see how easy it is to make pizza dough in my heavy duty Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. It kneads the dough at just the right speed to make it perfectly elastic. No more kneading by hand (although I’ve heard it’s great bicep workout)! Kitchen Aids are known for their power and versatility. They include a variety of beaters; dough hook, paddle and wire whip to meet all your baking dreams. Accent your kitchen with one of their flashy new colors.

Items easier on the pocketbook…

  • Stocking stuffers are not a problem. Gadgets, gadgets, gadgets… fit nicely into any stocking:
  • For the garlic lover: a garlic press, slicer or peeler will keep fingers free of garlic oil.
  • Pasta or pizza on the menu: microplanes come in several options, great for all types of cheeses and have many other uses as well.
  • Got a baker on your list: pastry mats roll up nicely to slide in a stocking or maybe a new French style tapered rolling pin.

As you can see, I could go on and on with kitchen gift ideas. I’m really only scratching the surface. My thought is this: don’t be afraid to splurge on a kitchen gift for the aspiring chef in your life… if they love cooking like I love cooking they’d much prefer it to an ordinary gift card.

I’ll stop now and finish with this, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the kitchen with all of my fabulous students and can’t to see you all again and meet some new in 2014! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!