As soon as Thanksgiving festivities are over, we’re on to a new holiday: Hanukkah, which combines elements of religious and cultural traditions. And while this Jewish holiday centers around time spent with close friends and family, gifts are very much part of the celebration.
If you have a family member who’s a chef (amateur or professional), then this is the perfect opportunity to show them how much you respect their passion. Here’s our guide with seven Hanukkah gifts that are perfect for the chef in your family. But before we get to it, let’s look at some favorite Hanukkah traditions.
The Origin of Hanukkah
Although Hanukkah is one of the most celebrated holidays in the world, many don’t know how it originated. And while Hanukkah is certainly not the most important holiday in the Jewish community, its being so close to Christmas makes it an instantly-recognizable one.
The origins of Hanukkah stretch back to the second century BCE during which the ancient land of Judaea—which contained Jerusalem—was invaded by the Seleucids. Not only did they ravage the Second Temple of Jerusalem, but they tried to convert the Jewish people living in the land. So ensued a three-year struggle commanded by Jewish leaders Mattathias and Judas Maccabeus.
After the conflict, Judas Maccabeus ordered the Second Temple to be purified. When he entered it for the first time, he found a small jar of oil—the only object left intact after the struggle. Even though it contained only enough oil to burn for one day, it miraculously burned for a whole eight days and gave the Jewish people time to find new consecrated oil. And so the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah was born.
How Hanukkah Is Celebrated?
The Hanukkah tradition everyone is familiar with is the lighting of the menorah, which is a stand-in for the lamp used in the Second Temple. For each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, families light a new candle while saying a blessing.
Aside from the lighting of the menorah, there are several other religious and non-religious traditions associated with this holiday, which include songs, games, and food. Indeed, food is a big part of the celebration. As a nod to the Hanukkah oil miracle, many dishes are fried in oil.
Lastly, while gift-giving is not exactly a traditional part of Hanukkah celebrations, it’s still very much a big part of the holiday. Historically, the only gift given at Hanukkah was gelt—a chocolate coin wrapped in gold foil. But because of the holiday’s proximity to Christmas, Hanukkah evolved to include gift exchanges as we know them.
When it comes to buying Hanukkah gifts for chefs, there are a few items that are sure to be cherished for years to come. But sometimes, all a chef wants to do is sit back, relax, and eat a delicious meal prepared by someone else. Here are some of our favorite Hanukkah dishes guaranteed to impress the chef in your family.
Hanukkah Dishes Sure To Impress Every Chef
Classic Hanukkah dishes are definitely delicious. That said, there’s no reason you can’t put a unique spin on them. Here are five of our favorite Hanukkah recipes that will impress any chef.
We can’t think of any dish more synonymous with Hanukkah than fried potato latkes. Not only are they simple to make (all you really need is one ingredient) but they can be prepared ahead of time and frozen until they’re ready to be fried and served up.
You can serve latkes with sour cream, smoked salmon, and chopped-up chives—although we’ll never complain about eating them plain! Oh, and if you want a healthier alternative, then it’s completely possible to go low-carb with this dish.
Beef Brisket With Caramelized Onions
It seems that beef brisket shows up on every Hanukkah dinner table, which can be traced back to Eastern Europe—the region that many Jewish communities hail from. Since the most expensive cuts of meat weren’t available, many had to make do with other options, of which brisket was the most popular.
And today? Not much has changed. Brisket remains a delicious cut of meat that miraculously soaks up all the ingredients that it’s cooked with. We love making ours with caramelized onions, but you can pair it with any unexpected ingredients that you can think of such as this horseradish gremolata.
All the richness of traditional Hanukkah dishes needs to be balanced out somehow. Our favorite way to do this is by serving an acidic vegetable dish on the side. Coleslaw is a classic side dish that can be prepared in minutes using minimal ingredients and seasoned any way you like.
This light and flaky pastry is a classic Hanukkah dessert. It might seem like its crescent shape and layers of filling require a lot of work, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you have your dough ready, all you need to do is cut and shape the dough into bite-sized pieces and roll them up with a filling of choice. Rugelach is incredibly versatile and can be made with your favorite combination of fruit, nuts, and chocolate.
Similar to a jelly donut, sufganiyot are another popular Hanukkah dessert. Although they’re traditionally filled with jam, they are delicious with Nutella, pudding, or caramel. And, of course, you can always eat them plain with a sprinkle of powdered sugar!
7 Hannukah Gifts for the Chef in Your Family
With all of its history, tradition, and delicious food, it’s easy to see why Hanukkah is such an important celebration for families. When you add gifts to the equation, this becomes even more clear. For the chef in your family, here are seven gift ideas that are sure to impress.
1. Personalized Cutting Board
A high-quality cutting board is a kitchen staple that has many uses. Not only is it a must for chopping, slicing, and julienning all kinds of ingredients, but it’s also integral for any chef’s kitchen décor. As much as we love the clean appearance of wood, a personalized touch will make a cutting board something to cherish for years to come.
2. A Luxury Chef’s Knife
A chef’s knife is the most important kitchen tool (and it makes the perfect companion gift to a cutting board!). Although the chef in your family likely has a trusted knife, there’s no reason to get them a new one that screams luxury. To make the gift even more impressive, we would add a leather carrying bag.
3. Smart Garden
While we’re sure that the chef in your family loves cooking with fresh herbs and spices, not everyone has the outdoor space to start a home garden. Thankfully, there’s no need for that.
A smart garden is small enough to fit on a kitchen countertop while growing a variety of fresh produce, herbs, and even flowers. This way, they’ll have fresh tomatoes and basil without ever having to leave their home.
4. Oil and Butter Infusion Machine
There are countless variations of infused oils and butter. Unfortunately, some of these can be hard—if not impossible—to get a hold of. Thankfully, infused oils and butter can be quickly made with an oil infusion machine. We’re certain that the chef in your life will appreciate being able to make any flavored oils and butter that come to mind when creativity strikes.
5. Pizza Oven
An at-home pizza oven will replicate that perfectly crispy pizza crust every time. It can go up to 900 degrees and is perfect for any type of baking (this means that the chef in your family will be able to make a savory bread, sweet baked treats, and even kebabs!). At-home pizza ovens come in wood and gas varieties that can be easily transported (you know, for pizza on-the-go). We think this gift pairs perfectly with a personalized pizza peel.
6. Wine Refrigerator
Since the chef in your family knows their food, they probably know which wine to pair it with, too. For their wine collection, wine refrigerators are the perfect companion.
Unlike a regular fridge—which is opened and closed all the time—a wine fridge maintains a consistent temperature. This is really important for storing wine as increased humidity can ruin its flavor. Plus, a wine cooler can be used to store other items, such as oils and vinegar.
7. Cheese Board
With the thousands of cheese varieties that are out there, it’s likely that the chef in your family enjoys at least a few of them. And when you consider that cheese is the perfect food for serving guests, a cheeseboard is a must-have in any kitchen. For this reason, we think that a gorgeous cheese board is a gift that’s sure to impress—especially if it comes with some exotic cheeses to accompany it.
May You Have the Gift of Giving
Although Hanukkah is really about spending time with your loved ones, gift-giving is a tradition we’ll always cherish. With the right gift, you can show the chef in your family how much you appreciate their passion while enhancing their cooking (and eating) experience.