Bump recipient's kitchen skills up a notch with culinary experiences from these small businesses.

By Kelsey Ogletree
November 17, 2020
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Save yourself the hassle of mailing gifts to friends and family this year, and instead find a food experience to give. For every home chef or food lover on your list, there’s an event to excite their palate and give them something fun to look forward to. Here are six curated food experiences from small businesses around the country, that you can give as gifts and will transcend Christmas Day.

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For the Turophile (aka Cheese Lover)

Founded in Greenwich Village in 1940, Murray’s Cheese has been a New York tradition for decades with its massive inventory of cheeses and specialty grocery items. Now, you don’t have to visit the Big Apple to enjoy a slice of the big cheese. Gifting one of the company’s instructional, yet entertaining live classes covering anything one could reasonably want to know about cheese—from fashioning a cheese board out of holiday leftovers to making your own burrata—is a sure way into any fromage lover’s heart. Pro tip: The best way to gift a Murray’s class is to purchase a gift card, then let your recipient pick the specific class (from $75-$130) that works for them. Prior to the scheduled day, they’ll receive a box filled with relevant cheese and accouterments.

For the Aspiring Chef

Restaurant-quality risotto or coq au vin that would make Julia Child cry (happy tears) aren’t pipe dreams for graduates of CocuSocial’s new Master Series—a live virtual experience where you cook alongside Michelin-starred or James Beard-winning chefs. Send a gift card (currently 20% off) for the recipient to book the class(es) that most appeal, including striped bass with sage and red wine butter with David Waltuck and pesto risotto with sea bass filet from Top Chef’s Eric Adjepong. They’ll need to supply their own ingredients for a recipe shared beforehand, but the chefs will answer any questions live during the class.

For the Sweet Tooth with Food Allergies

You might not have otherwise visited Goldenrod Pastries in Lincoln, Nebraska, but now that this inclusive, dairy-free (and 95% gluten-free) bakery is offering virtual classes, you can gift one—and hopefully enjoy the fruits of your recipient’s learnings in the class—to friends and family. For $150, owner Angela Garbacz offers private virtual classes where she teaches all the secrets to treats like her famous gluten-free cinnamon rolls, pound cake, or cut-out cookies. A gift includes the class plus a copy of her 2020 cookbook, Perfectly Golden.

For the Chocoholic

Candy in a stocking is always sweet, but there’s much more you can give to any loved one who’s passionate about chocolate: For instance, a hands-on lesson ($100) about bean-to-bar and a special tasting session from Caputo's, a family-owned specialty grocery shop in downtown Salt Lake City. CEO Matt Caputo’s passion for craft chocolate shines through in each course he leads, which cover topics you might have never considered (such as, what kinds of cheese pair well with chocolate?) as well as chocolate basics. Choose the “gift this class” option, and the recipient will receive a tasting kit to their door (the hardest part will be holding off nibbles until the course date). Be sure the recipient is available on the class date before you gift this experience.

 For the Southern at Heart

If they can’t travel to Charleston for one of the namesake baked goods at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, bring Charleston to them. Carrie Morey, owner of the now-legendary shop on Upper King Street (plus locations in Charleston’s City Market, as well as Charlotte and Atlanta) is now offering virtual biscuit-making classes ($67) that provide all the tools to make two dozen perfect Southern biscuits. When you gift a class, the recipient will receive two bags of biscuit mix—in classic buttermilk or gluten-free—and a full set of biscuit cutters, in addition to a Zoom meeting on the selected date. Here’s hoping that as the gifter, you’ll be invited over to sample the flaky goods.

For the (Formerly) Frequent Flyer

When Washington state-based boutique travel company The Table Less Traveled could no longer do in-person tours this year, it shifted to hosting virtual food lessons inspired by its trips to Italy, Peru, Japan, and beyond. All sessions are limited to 15 people, so guests have time to interact with the chef (they’ll need to source and measure ingredients in advance, then follow along on screen). It also feels nice to give, as you’re supporting home cooks and chefs whose jobs were eliminated during the pandemic and are finding work through this company. Download a Christmas voucher you can put beneath the tree, then let your recipient choose his or her desired class and complete the purchase.

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