Wedding gifts for the foodie couple

Bon Appetit

Wedding Gifts That Your Favorite Food-Loving Couple Will Actually Like

(Photo: Erik S. Peterson)

It's wedding season! In other words, time to buy run-of-the-mill cutting boards and oh-so-personal measuring cups for your nearest and dearest. Wedding registries certainly simplify things, but there's just nothing gratifying about honoring a special occasion with a motley mix of spoons and Silpats. And even registries aren't to be wholly trusted.

"We thought we wanted a panini press," says Jessica Maher, who owns the Austin, TX, restaurant Lenoir with her husband, Todd Duplechan. Turns out, they didn't really. After four or five Sundays of panini-making, they got tired of it, and haven't used the press in years.

So what's a food-loving wedding guest to do? We asked chefs across the country what gifts they're excited to give friends and family members, or what they'd be excited to receive themselves.

Cast-Iron Pans

(Credit: Wikimedia user Evan-Amos)

Cast-Iron Pans

"It's really nice to have tried-and-true pieces of equipment that'll last your marriage," says Jenn Louis, chef of Lincoln in Portland, OR. That's why she suggests a small collection of antique cast-iron pans. They're ultra-durable, so "till death do us part" shouldn't be a problem. And by choosing antiques, you'll deliver well-seasoned pans and up the charm factor. (Louis says you can also get some cool newer cast-iron pieces at smaller hardware stores.)

Pick a few different varieties--a 10-inch skillet the couple will get plenty of use out of on weeknights, something bigger that'll work well for entertaining, and something unexpected, like a special fried-chicken pan or a plancha flat-top. Rust isn't a dealbreaker with used cast-iron (though you should re-season it before gifting), but if the item is cracked, keep looking.

(See more: Wedding gowns under $300 )

A Custom Cookbook

(Photo: Flickr user devlon)

A Custom Cookbook

When James McDuffee, chef at Joseph Leonard in New York, isn't behind the stove at the West Village spot, you might find him...behind the stove at his apartment, coming up with recipes to celebrate his friends' nuptials.

Searching for a a personal and unique gift, McDuffee and his girlfriend Allison Deiboldt decided to create cookbooks from scratch. McDuffee steers clear of restaurant-style recipes, instead choosing ones that are geared toward young couples busy with work, like grilled steak with farro or a twist on a gin-and-tonic. This gift is easier to pull off for McDuffee and Deiboldt than for the rest of us--he's a pro with recipes, and she knows how to bind books herself--but it's achievable even for amateurs, thanks to programs like iPhoto. The whole process is labor- and time-intensive (McDuffee says he's still behind on gifts for a few friends...), "but when your friends call you and tell you they made the roast chicken recipe tonight," McDuffee says, it's worth it.

Le Creuset Deep Sauté Pan
Le Creuset Deep Sauté Pan

Can't decide among the Le Creuset offerings on your friend's registry? For Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, it's a no-brainer: the Signature Deep Sauté Pan.

"It was the best purchase I ever made," says Britton Bauer, who has given two people the pan this year. The super deep skillet has become her kitchen workhorse, making weekly appearances for Sunday roast chicken, ratatouille, fried chicken, even reheating pizza. Britton Bauer also sends along recipes for some of the quick and simple staples she makes in the pan.

A Cook's Toolkit
A Cook's Toolkit

For bridal showers, Jessica Maher of Lenoir gives a collection of tools that she finds most useful.

"I think a lot of people go into adulthood not knowing all the kitchen tools that will make their lives easier," she says.

For Maher, those basics are a vegetable peeler, a Microplane, a citrus reamer, and a spatula. Follow her lead (she's a pro, after all), or swap in your own kitchen essentials.


For a coffee lover, or anyone who loves to entertain, there's no cooler coffee set-up than a Chemex ($40).

"We use one at the restaurant when we're taste-testing coffees," says Ryan Pera, chef of Revival Market in Houston, who says it brings out the beans' pure flavor. Plus, the simply stylish equipment is "a showpiece," perfect for the end of a dinner party. "You get 'oohs' and 'aahs,'" Pera says. Bolster the gift with some of our favorite Chemex accessories.

Lemon Tree
Lemon Tree

"I've been eyeing this for a while, waiting for a good person to give it to," says Anna Shovers, pastry chef at The Publican in Chicago, of this lemon tree ($100, from Williams-Sonoma).

True, not every couple has the right space (or the green thumb!) for a lemon tree. But for the right pair, this gift means Meyer lemon salsa and tarts well past their first anniversary.

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Cooking Classes

(Photo: Flickr user barron)

Cooking Classes

Kevin Morrison knows a lot about wedding gifts; the Denver-based chef of Pinche Tacos has been married three times. So we trust him when he says that an experiential gift like a cooking class will stand out among the glassware.

"It's something totally different," he says. You've got to know the couple you're shopping for: Are they beginners who would benefit from some introductory cooking classes as they start a home? Old pros who'd like something more unusual, like a sushi- or mozzarella-making class?

"It's a fun evening, he says. "And then they can build from that."

More from Bon Appetit:

10 Snacks You Thought Were Healthy But Really Aren't

Spring Pasta Recipes

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

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