They labor in the kitchen day in, day out for the sake of keeping the rest of us well fed, and their love for food carries over into their holiday gift-giving, as well. We asked four Southern chefs what they’re giving for Christmas, and here’s what they told us.
Megan Williams, Etch Restaurant
Williams keeps Nashville sweet, so it’s no surprise her gift of choice this holiday season is a batch of peppermint macarons. “I always love making candy and cookies for my loved ones as gifts,” Etch’s pastry chef says. “Macarons are perfect for the holidays because you can get really festive with the colors and flavors. They’re also fun for people to get because you usually have to go to a nice bakery to find them. If you make macarons for the people on your Christmas list, they are sure to be impressed!” Check your favorite bakery for a batch of their seasonal macarons, or try your hand at making your own as Williams did.
Kevin Nashan, Sidney Street Cafe
The St. Louis chef shares a “pieces of home” basket with his Southern friends via his favorite items hand-picked from his hometown of Santa Fe, N.M. and his current city in Missouri. “These are the holiday treats that I grew up on, as well as the ones my family enjoys every year,” Nashan explains. “It’s a bit of my past and present combined in one basket–and it’s delicious.” In this year’s basket: empanaditas, biscochitos, roasted Hatch chile, coffee cake and a bag of Sump coffee beans, favorite preserve from the season and a pack of seeds for the garden, and dried posole. Nashan says an old metal bucket with a coffee bean bag as the inlay works great as a container. No matter where you live, you can do as Nashan and collect an assortment of locally-made treats–whether coffee, chocolate, pastries, produce, or items specific to that location–to create a slice of your hometown for your loved ones.
Cole Ellis, Delta Meat Market
Restaurant industry veteran Cole Ellis and his wife Mary Tatum own a specialty butcher shop in Cleveland, Miss. that sells fresh ground beef, cured hams, house-smoked bacon, hand-crafted cheeses, fresh vegetables and specialty grocery items. This year, Ellis put together charcuterie baskets, each comprised of his favorite products and topped off with a carefully-paired bottle of wine, and gave them out to his food-loving friends. Even if you’re not a butcher by trade, this is an easy gift to replicate with treats curated from your favorite local meat shop.
Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow
The Atlanta-based chef, cookbook author and former Top Chef contestant doled out a mixed bag of his homemade heirloom apple butter, Terminus City Barbecue sauce and brown sugar bacon curing mix as gifts to his family and friends at a holiday party earlier this month. “The barbecue sauce and apple butter are both great kitchen staples,” Gillespie said. “And the bacon cure is a fun little treat for my foodie friends who want to try their hand at homemade bacon.” To create a similar gift to Gillespie’s, pick up your favorite sauces and seasonings from a nearby gourmet store and put together a survival kit for the fellow chefs in your life.