News & Politics

Foodie Wish Lists

Here’s what some of Washington’s top chefs, sommeliers, food-truck proprietors, and beer geeks are hoping to score this holiday season.

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Joe Raffa, executive chef at Oyamel
“A Japanese ice-ball mold ($201) for that perfect after-work cocktail.”

Jill Zimorski, beverage director for Think Food Group

Martinique-style swizzle sticks ($17.95) are great stocking stuffers. A Pineapple Easy Slicer ($19.95)—because the only thing more fun than drinking out of a coconut is drinking out of a hollowed-out pineapple. Metal bendy straws ($12 for a set of four) because you need a bendy straw to drink out of a pineapple. And a metal straw is reusable.

“A handmade apron from Etsy so I can look cute while making a mess and also channel my inner Donna Reed.

“A bottle each of Fonseca, Gould Campbell, Graham’s, Taylor Fladgate, and Dow & Croft 1977 vintage port ($130 to $260 each) and a bottle of the 1977 D’Oliveira Terrantez Madeira ($125). My birth year wasn’t much of a wine vintage, save for vintage port and Madeira, so I’d like a little collection that I can hang onto for some time and share. And finally, a bottle of the 1780 Borges Bual Madeira ($2,450) because that might be the oldest wine I’d ever have. And because I’ve been a very good girl this year.” 

Bryan Moscatello, chef at Zola, Potenza and Zola Wine & Kitchen

“An Athanor cook suite for my home (roughly $40,000). The self-contained unit will need to have two open burners, a plancha, a French top, a thermal circulating bath, a fryer, and a multicooker for its cooking surface. The base of the unit will have two ovens, a heated plate cabinet that has a fan to circulate the air, and shelves for pots and pans. It will also have a shelf over the cook surface.” Editor’s note: Jeez, Bryan, we hope you’ve been good this year.

Brendan Cox, executive chef at DC Coast
“A food truck so that I can have my own oyster-mobile.”

David Guas, pastry chef at Bayou Bakery

“Recipe-organizer software like Master Cook ($19.99), a dehydrator (from $210), and a chicken coop and two beehives in my yard for eggs and honey.”

Billy Klein, executive chef at Café Saint-Ex

“A soft-serve ice-cream machine.”

Ruben Garcia, director of culinary research and development for José Andrés’s Think Food Group, which includes restaurants such as Zaytinya and MiniBar

“A vacation—like to the Arctic Circle to try Inuit cooking.”

Brent Kroll, sommelier at the Oval Room

“A Vinturi wine aerator ($39.95), which can take any stubborn red wine and make it blossom. It has come in handy lately for 2005 Bordeaux, which is a vintage that isn’t quite ready yet. I’ve also recently used it on a 2003 (the year of the heat wave) Amarone from Veneto, Italy.”

Mike Lenard, co-owner of TaKorean

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook ($19.50). Having grown up with a copy in our house, I feel that this is the most complete cookbook available. The recipes are delicious and encourage individual creativity.

“A KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer ($300) is an essential tool that I still don’t have. I could make fresh pasta, crush my own tomatoes, and grind my own sausage, all with one device. And a mortar and pestle. You get much more flavor from your spices when you grind them down by hand, and a mortar and pestle also make it easier to make a from-scratch curry paste.”

Kat Bangs, sommelier at Komi
“I’m a coffee drinker, and every cup needs a saucer, but a set of silver demitasse spoons completes the ritual. Plus, I’m a sucker for miniature or oversize utensils or glassware—they make me feel like Alice in Wonderland.”

Ed Witt, executive chef at 701

“A Masanobu VG-10 Damascus French Slicer ($328). I really like the Masanobu knives I already have. The new Damascus-steel knives look great.”

Thor Cheston, general manager and beer director at Brasserie Beck

“ I’ve always wanted a Homer Simpson talking bottle opener ($8.29) but can’t justify spending a dime on it.

"Also, a case of the Westvleteren 12—the most sought-after beer in the world, produced by the one Trappist brewery that doesn’t export to the United States.

And Grape vs. Grain: A Historical, Technological, and Social Comparison of Wine and Beer ($21.90) by Charles Bamforth. My wife is a professional sommelier, so I’m always looking for good material on why beer is better than wine.”

Jeff Kelley, owner of EatWonky

How to Read a French Fry by Russ Parsons ($11.97 at Barnes & Noble). It has been around for a bit, but it’s a fun and engaging read as each chapter addresses a specific culinary process (i.e., frying), provides a list of rules to follow, then offers a range of recipes.

“Also, a Rock the Bottle thermos ($28.03 at With the winter coming, we have to keep ourselves warm when working the window. Nothing like some hot chocolate or coffee to keep the body warm and spirits up. This one is easy to grab and will keep hot for a full lunch shift.”

Leland Morris, co-owner of Red Hook Lobster Truck

“A frozen-custard machine. We’re getting our first shipment of Maine Root wild-blueberry soda, and I immediately thought we could do a blueberry-vanilla float. Root beer would damn fine, too. And if money is no object, let’s make that two machines because we also want a second truck.”

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.