Food & Drink

Interactive: A dozen gifts for the beginner cook

There is always someone on the holiday gift list just starting out in the kitchen: the recent college graduate, the newlyweds setting up house, the niece who has discovered baking, the cousin who has gone crazy for grilling.

We compiled a list of a dozen basic tools to help get them started.

Where to shop?

Kitchen stores are great, and we get plenty of inspiration in them. But don’t overlook restaurant supply stores. Most will allow the public to shop in them, and they carry heavy-duty tools at good prices:

Fadels, 5426 Old Pineville Road. Family-owned since 1962, they’ve moved into a new location that’s easier to find. 704-332-7165.

Chef’Store, 3304 Eastway Drive, 704-531-4610. Owned by U.S. Foods, it stocks food in commercial quantities, but it also has tools and cooking equipment.

Gardner & Benoit, 8334 Arrowridge Blvd., 704-504-1151.

What not to buy?

Trust us: We’ve wasted plenty of time, money and valuable kitchen space on things that didn’t earn their keep. Our picks for dumbest kitchen gear:

• Onion goggles. All you need is ventilation. Turn on the range hood if onion fumes are getting to you.

• Avocado and mango peelers. A little practice and a sharp knife is all you need.

• Poultry syringes. Injecting flavor is a great idea, but we always end up frustrated when spices clog the tube. Is it that hard to plan ahead and marinate?

• Egg separators. Practice, people. If you really need help, use a funnel (another handy kitchen tool we use all the time).

• Creme brulee torch. Save yourself some money: Go to a hardware store and pick up a small propane torch on the plumbing aisle. Same thing, and it lasts longer.

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