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‘Tis the season for holiday soirees, and with each celebration comes the need for a hostess gift. A beautiful candle or nice bottle of wine is a great go-to gifting option, but why not spice it up this season? We spoke with six of the Magic City’s most prestigious chefs and culinary minds to find out what unique, food-related gift they would bring a hostess. From homemade bacon jam and shishito peppers to ooey, gooey cookie skillets, these eight culinary hostess gifts are sure to impress any foodie. So, get inspired by these edible options, and gift your hostess an unforgettable bite that will delight their taste buds this season!

8 Unique Culinary Hostess Gifts from Local Chefs and Restaurateurs

Colby Conklin of EastWest

“I would gift a basket of fresh shishito peppers. These peppers are awesome, and they are not hot! Well, they say that one out of every 10 has a little heat but it’s definitely bearable. You can get these peppers at Mr. Chen’s in Homewood,” says Colby. “We blister these peppers by sautéing them in the pan on high heat for a couple of minutes. After they are finished cooking, we sprinkle some sea salt and lemon zest over the top and serve with a side of Sriracha-yogurt dipping sauce.”

culinary hostess gifts

Roasted shishito peppers from Colby Conklin of EastWest

Ben Vaughn of Root to Tail

“I would offer my homemade bacon jam and pimento cheese,” says Ben. “The bacon jam is sweet and savory with a little spice, and the creaminess of the sharp pimento cheese complements the jam perfectly. It is truly the ideal pairing for the holidays or any traditional Southern gathering.”

culinary hostess gifts

Bacon jam and pimento cheese from Chef Ben Vaughn of Root to Tail

RELATED: 13 New Birmingham Restaurants to Check Out This Fall

Ashley McMakin of Ashley Mac’s

“I love to bring something local and unique as a hostess gift. My friend at Susan Gordon Pottery has the most beautiful serving dishes from a small cracker dish to a stunning cake stand,” says Ashley. “Grab a dish or treat from a local restaurant to go with it, and you’ve got the perfect hostess gift!”

culinary hostess gifts

Susan Gordon Pottery dish and cake stand, along with a tasty appetizer, from Ashley McMakin of Ashley Mac’s

Amy Jason of Cookie Fix

“I love to give a pack of Cookie Fix frozen dough balls and a little Lodge iron skillet as a hostess gift,” says Amy. “The hostess can create an over-the-top dessert by baking a couple of dough balls in the skillet, topping with a big scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of homemade ganache sauce to make the best dessert in town, right at home! The ganache sauce is simple and fast: In a large Pyrex glass measuring cup, microwave 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips and 1 cup of heavy cream for 2 minutes, then stir like crazy until smooth. The ganache will keep in the fridge for weeks and is a delicious topping for any dessert. Her guests will think she slaved over this special dessert, but it only took minutes!”
culinary hostess gifts

Frozen cookie dough to-go and miniature Lodge cast-iron skillet, along with an easy ganache recipe, from Amy Jason of Cookie Fix

Abhishek Sainju of Abhi

“I would gift the everyday spices I use in all of my Southeast Asian dishes. These include cumin seeds, coriander powder, turmeric, paprika, Himalayan pink salt, curry powder, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and star anise,” says Abhi. “The Masala Dabba Indian spice box is a simple and practical way to organize spices, and this handmade stoneware bowl is beautiful. I would also gift a ceramic tea pot, like this elephant-shaped one. It is a fantastic and unique gift that encourages your hostess to experiment.”

culinary hostess gifts

Southeastern Asian spices from Abhishek Sainju of Abhi

RELATED: Abhi: The Epic Tale of a Rockstar Chef & His Dream Eatery

 Paget Pizitz of MELT and Fancy’s on 5th

“I think we have several items on our MELT and Fancy’s on 5th menus that would be great for a hostess gift. All are super easy and definite crowd-pleasers. First, everyone loves pimento cheese. I would bring that along with some of our lavash crackers, and dress it up by placing the pimento cheese in small mason jars. Remember that people eat with their eyes, so presentation is key,” says Paget. “I might also bring a pan of MELT mac ‘n’ cheese as the perfect gift, especially in colder weather, or our chicken salad, which is great on its own. Or turn this side into an easy sandwich by bringing along a tray of bread, tomato and lettuce, so guests can easily make their own sandwich. Grab some of the 41st Street Mustard or the tremendous smoked tuna dip from Fancy’s on 5th for a little kick, and you have yourself a happy hostess!”

culinary hostess gifts

MELT mac ‘n’ cheese from Paget Pizitz of MELT and Fancy’s on 5th

culinary hostess gifts

41st Street Mustard and rosemary ketchup from MELT and Fancy’s on 5th

culinary hostess gifts

Pimento cheese and spreads from MELT and Fancy’s on 5th

Give your hostess the gift of something delicious this holiday season with these unique culinary options!

Thank you to all of today’s chefs for the fantastic advice and photographs!


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