Gift guide for a starter kitchen

Building a good kitchen takes years of acquiring the right tools and gear. Such a daunting to-do list can overwhelm even the most enthusiastic newbie cook. (What is a sous vide machine, anyway?) Skip the fondue set that will only gather dust in an out-of-reach cabinet and gift your kitchen beginner with stuff they will use for a lifetime.

Fifty Shades of Chicken Cookbook
Taking the concept of “food porn” to a new (and lascivious) level, Fifty Shades of Chicken: A Parody in a Cookbook is the perfect choice for a young couple just starting out. Behind the trussing, tugging, pounding and other winking double entendres, this hilarious parody of a cookbook has some great basic chicken recipes, allowing your beginner chef to focus on – ahem – other important matters.
$20. Subterranean Books, 6275 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.862.6100,

Lodge 10-inch Cast-Iron Skillet
Few things are as beloved to the cook as a cast-iron skillet. Hundreds of delectable dishes are at your fingertips – think seared steaks, bacon, cornbread, oven-baked sweet biscuits and more. Cast iron can withstand high heat and abuse, requires minimal cleaning and lasts forever. In fact, there’s a good chance your recipient will regift it – to the next generation.
$25. Kitchen Conservatory, 8021 Clayton Road, Clayton, 314.862.2665,

Dominica Cutting Board
This one is for all the moms who lectured their kids about using the cutting board and not the counter for trimming the crust off sandwiches. Correct them once and for all with this chic bamboo board. Harder than maple and earth-friendly, it’s as sustainable as it is good-looking. If you’re lucky, they might even call to say thanks.
$30. Cornucopia, 107 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.822.2440,

Wüsthof 8-inch Cook’s Knife
Behind every really good meal is a really good knife, and every cook has a favorite. We’re partial to Wüsthof’s classic 8-inch cook’s knife. The handle and blade are proportioned and balanced perfectly, allowing you to slice paper thin, dice fine and crush garlic (or anything else) with the flat.
$100. Bertarelli Cutlery, 1927 Marconi Ave., St. Louis, 314.664.4005,

Sprouted Designs Kitchen Towels
Life is wicked messy, the kitchen even more so. Clean things up with local artist Amanda Gray-Swain’s flour sack towels with bright silk-screened designs. these bright and happy cotton towels look great draped over an oven handle, in the pocket of an apron or when used as oversized napkins.
$12.50. Sprouted Designs,