Best food and drink experiences to gift this year

Finding the perfect gift for a food fanatic can be tricky. There’s a good chance the foodie on your list has been to most of the best restaurants in town and has most of the kitchen gizmos and gadgets they could possibly need. If that’s the case, the best gift probably isn’t a thing they can unwrap but rather an incredible food experience they’ll never forget.

As we all adapted to the in-person challenges of last few years, food experiences adapted along with us and that means there are more quality virtual food experiences to choose from, as well as those finally happening in real life again. And that’s a good thing because foodie folk love their experiences. In this day and age, it’s no longer good enough just to taste that bottle of Burgundy or Iberico ham; seeing, touching, feeling and learning about our favorite food and drink has become an important part of the equation, and the industry is taking note.

From online cooking classes to in-person food tours and some very excellent DIY home cooking kits, food brands have been capitalizing on the growing demand for unique, exciting and, let’s face it, social media-friendly food and drink experiences. We’ve rounded up some of the best offerings of food experience gifts, from the affordable to the extravagant, to give your food-loving friends or family this year. 

Some of these experiences require a bit of travel, while others are designed to be enjoyed at home. If you’re traveling this fall and winter, please do so safely and in accordance with local COVID-19 safety protocol.

Goldbelly

I don’t think there is a more comforting food than dumplings, and making them is relaxing, too. You can gift a DIY organic chicken and zucchini dumpling kit compiled by dim sum experts Mimi Cheng. The kit feeds four to six people and includes dumpling wrappers and premade filling so you can focus on the fun part: wrapping, cooking and eating. Open a few bottles of wine, set everyone up with a station and you’ve got a perfectly social dim sum affair on your hands.

MasterClass

Thomas Keller is America’s most Michelin-decorated chef. In this in-depth video tutorial hosted by the online portal MasterClass, Keller walks you through some of the techniques that made his restaurants, such as Per Se and The French Laundry, so iconic. Specifically, the downloadable and rewatchable class walks students through the preparation of fish and other seafood, sous vide cooking and even some of Keller’s favorite desserts. Pair this MasterClass subscription with an actual sous vide stick for the perfectly themed experiential cooking gift that will undoubtedly lead to some delicious meals.

MasterClass

Speaking of great, in-depth cooking tutorials, Yotam Ottolenghi also has a course available to take on MasterClass. There may not be a chef working today who has a better beat on cooking vegetables and legumes in interesting ways than Yotam. His course explores plant-based spreads and dips, including labneh, muhammara and other tasty mezze that are perfect for the serial entertainer or host on your list.

Explore all of MasterClass’ food and drink lessons here. A subscription is $180 for the year and includes the entire library of classes in dozens of categories and practices. 

Goldbelly

The MakiMaki sushi kit has everything to make fresh sushi at home. And I mean everything, including slabs of sushi-grade tuna, toro, hamachi, salmon and all the fixings. Making sushi turns out to be a whole lot of fun, satisfying and quite a bit easier than I thought it would be. This is a fun gift for the DIY foodie and one you can all enjoy together.

Airbnb

Food tours are by no means a new thing, but the standard tasting tour and walking tour have certainly gotten better over the years. Since Airbnb launched its Experiences platform a few years back, this tapas tour of Barcelona‘s incredible gothic neighborhood called “Tapalicious” ($90 on Airbnb) has racked up a near-perfect 4.9 out of 5 stars in over 500 user reviews. 

Or if someone on your list is planning a trip to Mexico City, treat them to a street tacos seminar from a local chef for just $21 a person. There are countless food-based experience gift ideas to book through Airbnb in just about every major city on Earth. You can search by city, of course, and use dozens of other filters — drinks, eats, wellness, specific neighborhoods — so the perfect culinary class or food tour is waiting when they arrive. 

The Chef & the Dish

All the fun and know-how of a private cooking class from world-class chefs, in the privacy of your home or apartment. The Chef & The Dish brings Michelin-level culinary masters into your kitchen via video chat, from places as far away as Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, New Orleans, Turkey and Thailand. Dinner is going to be awesome from now on. Classes for two start at $299, plus $50 for each additional person, making a four-person class as inexpensive as $100 per. 

You can also purchase cooking class gift cards and let them choose the lesson themselves. 

Giraffe Manor

Does the gentle kiss of a giraffe while you nosh your morning eggs and toast sound like the perfect breakfast? Of course it does! At this outrageously charming hybrid inn and animal sanctuary in Nairobi, Kenya, you can live that very dream. As guests eat morning breakfast in the luxurious estate dining room, giraffes — who freely roam the grounds alongside other exotic animals — sidle up expecting attention and snacks, of course. Just watch this video and immediately book a stay (which starts at around $600 per night) for a great gift for you and a very special someone in your life.

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