If you're wondering what to buy the culinary whiz in your life this festive season, you can't go far wrong with a handy kitchen gadget or two. We've searched high and low to bring you the must-have items, most of which are available from good cookery shops, to make this Christmas a cracker.
The ultimate instrument for a keen cook is a good knife. And one from the Japanese Knife Company (from £19, www.japaneseknifecompany.com) is likely to win you lots of brownie points.
For a saucepan that's a cut above the rest check out Mauviel's 9cm copper pan (£24.99), from the Rolls Royce of pans, and the fantastic Circulon 2 roasting tray with rack (£80) is another winner. Also a kitchen essential is the Le Creuset casserole dish with lid (from £50). These are especially good for stewing and braising, and come in a variety of colours.
If you're shopping for a technical whizz or budding Blumenthal, a Kitchen Craft digital thermometer (from £5) is ideal for getting a Sunday roast bang on. Also great as a stocking filler would be a heat diffuser. They are just the job for making confits and give added control over low temperature cooking.
Friends with kitchens on the small side? An Index Chopping Board, which comprises four dishwasher-safe polypropylene chopping boards for meat, fish, veg and hot stuff in one handy container (£34.95) is a great space saver. Oxo's Good Grips Mandolin Slicer (£49.99) is another excellent piece of kit, for making dauphinois, coleslaws and gratins.
If you feel like splashing out on someone special the Kitchenaid Artisan Mixer (from £300) is stylish, functional and a perfect addition to any cool kitchen. More industrial is the Kenwood blender KM010 (around £285). Although slightly less elegant than the Artisan, what it lacks in looks it makes up for in brawn. And the KM010 has the added bonus of including a food processor and liquidiser attachment.
If you're after multi-features, the Phillips HR1372 hand-blender (good kitchen shops, £50) is a winner. It's robust, has a sleek brushed-metal finish and comes with a useful set of attachments, including an electric whisk. And if you like the metal look, a Dualit Chrome Toaster (around £120) is durable and beautiful.
An often overlooked, but supremely useful tool is the rice cooker. The Tefal Rice Cube (£40) helps ensure soggy, overcooked rice is a thing of the past. Finally, if you're looking for something extra fun a Gaggia ice cream maker (£249), makes an original gift, while for the dinner table, Peugeot's salt and pepper mills (£20) are among the best around.