Gift Gurus

Pro tips for shopping for the cooks in your life

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Step away from the infomercial.

In the interests of preventing another Magic Bullet re-gifting incident, we asked chefs around the Bay Area what essential tools they think every devoted home cook should own:

Kitchen shears: SPQR's Matthew Accarrino says these MAC kitchen shears ($70) are essential "for cutting through bone and kitchen twine or snipping herbs."

Santoku knife: Andrea Nguyen, author of Asian Tofu, considers "a good, cheap knife" that isn't fancy but "feels good in your hand" to be essential. She recommends a santoku from any Japanese hardware store, like this one from Wasabi ($35).

Andrea Nguyen recommends a reliable santoku

Bench scraper: Catherine Pantsios of the San Francisco Cooking School says her "absolutely indispensible" tool is a bench scraper ($10 at Williams-Sonoma) for "every time I chop something, to lift and carry the food."

Chinois: Jake Des Voignes of Local's Corner recommends a chinois ($85)–a conical, extra-fine-mesh strainer–to "bring an extra level of refinement" to home cooking. Use it to make "really clear broth" or "super smooth purées," he says.

Rice cooker: Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie, who says she has to eat rice every day, insists on a good rice cooker. Zojirushi's NHS-06 model ($42 from Amazon) "makes perfect rice, every time."