Crank the kitchen game up a notch with gifts for the home chef in your life

From pantry staples and spices to utensils.

Enter holiday season — it’s time to cook up a storm in the kitchen!

We are lucky desert dwellers, surrounded by local farmers, artisans, and purveyors who use and sell flavorful fare. The Tucson Foodie team covets everything displayed in this basket, but even the purchase of only one or two items would make a home chef happy.

The Home Chef

Oils, tools, and spices

Oils, tools, and spices (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Here’s what your home chef needs
Salts & Spices
  • Agave Pantry — the bakery goods from this cottage kitchen have been on our radar for a while now. When Agave Pantry introduced Salt & Spice Blends, we whipped out our Santa wish list. They are all interesting and delicious (and very pretty). The herbed sugars and housewares are terrific, too. Get it at up-and-coming Cultivate Market or online.
  • Chilttepica Products feature the Chiltepin Pepper, a native Sonoran desert pepper. Whether you buy it whole and crush it in one of their gorgeous hand-carved wooden molinitos (spice grinders) or taste it from one of their handy pre-blended chile salts, your foodie friend is going to jump with joy. To peruse their product variety, head to these local purveyors: La Estrella Bakery, Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market, Food Conspiracy Co-op, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Rincon Market, or Time Market. Or buy them online.

Read our Guide to chili peppers at Mexican markets in Tucson for more information on the chiltepin (18 on the list).

  • Desert Provisions — enjoy Sonoran Sea Salt simply or blend it with chiles. They’ve also recently done a beautiful gift package with their Red Wine Salt (with Sand-Reckoner) along with a locally made clay salt cellar and a beautiful little wooden spoon (we are a bit obsessed with this little spoon). Pick them up at Sand-Reckoner, 5 Points Market or get it online.
  • Ghini’s French Caffe — Coralie Satta, chef/owner of Ghini’s French Caffe, has put together some lovely tins of French-inspired spice blends. The Herbes de Provence will add a special French flavor and aroma to your roast or soups.
  • Mano y Metate — freshly ground spices, nuts, seeds, and chiles are needed as the base for delicious moles (how-to on the package), for rubs, or to spice up your festive cookies, breads, or drinks. The blends can be purchased at Native Seeds/SEARCH, Food Conspiracy Co-op, Time Market, 5 Points Market, or buy them online.
  • Old Pueblo Spice Company is doing great things with their chiltepin peppers. It’s available in sweet tins (and they will even fill a pepper grinder with their signature mix of black peppercorns and chiltepin pepper). Bring on the heat. It’s available at 5 Points Market and at the 5 Points Farmers Market on Sunday mornings.
  • Queen Creek Olive Mill — The Tucson Foodie office always has a bottle of their Arizona EVOO in our pantry. We love dipping our bread in it, drizzling it on salad, and even cooking with it. So will your foodie friends. Their flavored oils and organic, aged balsamic vinegar make great gifts. View their full range of local products and order online.
Local Beans, Fruits & Foods

Native Seed/SEARCHNative Seed/SEARCH is a treasure trove of delicious local ingredients. We have their White Tepary Beans and Cholla Buds in our pantry already. Tucsonans are lucky to have this irreplaceable, passionate library of foods. Check out their variety of local goods, grouped into perfect gifting collections, online or head to their shop on Campbell Avenue.

Local Chefs Tools
  • Don Nguyen Knives — if you are looking for something extra special for the friend who’s always in the kitchen, look no further than these amazing knives designed and created right here in Tucson. They are the type to be handed down to future generations. Commission yours when you can — they are priced according to commission and vary in price.
Knives from Don Nguyen Knives (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Knives from Don Nguyen Knives (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Read our article Custom Don Nguyen Knives are a Hot Commodity Among Chefs, Locals & International Enthusiasts.

  • Fine Wood Spoons — Get beautifully handcrafted utensils (we love the tongs) made from exotic woods from all over the world here. Bruce will even do a custom job for you — so special.
  • Mrs. Spices & Son — the refinished vintage kitchen tools are beautiful and great to use. Pick them up for $10 apiece from Jennifer English at the 5 Points Farmers Market on Sunday mornings.

But wait, there’s more

For more gift ideas, including collections with hot sauces and salsas, cozy drinks and eats, a variety of local snacks, festive drinks for hosts, cookbooks, and desert-influenced preserves, check out The Ultimate Food Lovers Gift Guide with Local Gifts from Tucson.

Jenn, who grew up with too many brothers, talks with her mouth full during the movie.