2020 gift guide: Support local restaurants, chefs, and food businesses with these holiday gift ideas

Give the gift of hot sauce, pasta kits, and cooking classes this year.

Sauces from Pammy's
Pasta kits from Pammy's. Courtesy Pammy's

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You’ve been hearing it for months: Buy gift certificates from restaurants. Order takeout. Stock up on restaurant merchandise, like blankets, sweatshirts, and key chains.

The restaurant industry has suffered greatly this year due to the pandemic, and with a significantly less profitable holiday season on the horizon, they continue to need the public’s support. So here’s one more way you can help: Consider giving a food-related gift for the holidays.

From gift baskets and wine clubs to an unlimited udon passport, there are some truly creative ways to help support restaurants, chefs, and local food businesses this year. Add one of these gifts to your holiday shopping list — and maybe throw in a restaurant gift certificate or two as a stocking stuffer.


Local Favorites Basket from Bacco’s Wine + Cheese
This Bay Village wine and cheese shop has an expertly curated selection of gift baskets to choose from, but it’s the Local Favorites Basket that really shines a spotlight on some of the region’s fantastic small businesses. The assortment features a jar of fresh and fermented strawberry preserves from Somerville’s Tasting Counter, plus elote powder and Kelcey’s chili crisp from another Somerville hot spot, Spoke Wine Bar. You’ll also find incredible dark chocolate from Goodnow Farms Chocolate in Sudbury, honey almond macaroons from Boston-based St. Emilion Macaroon Company, and maple kettle corn from Bureau’s Sugarhouse in Connecticut. $75

“Made in Boston” holiday gift box from CommonWealth Kitchen
Business incubator CommonWealth Kitchen is showcasing the best of its entrepreneurs this year with a holiday gift box comprised of five local goods. Each box includes biscuits from Effie’s Homemade, Asian-inspired sauces from Fresh Zen, sauce from Hillside Harvest, granola from Humble Bones granola, and all-natural dips, chutneys, and curry simmer sauces from Meal Mantra. Ordering begins Dec. 10. $50

Crane River Cheese Club

Crane River Cheese Club

Cheese club kit from Crane River Cheese Club
Chef Brian Poe of Tip Tap Room and Parish Café was looking for something to do while he waited to reopen his restaurants, which had temporarily closed due to the pandemic. So he launched Crane River Cheese Club, a grocery delivery service featuring meats, cheeses, seafood, farm fresh produce, and other specialty groceries — and a killer cheese club kit highlighting New England cheeses. Each one-pound kit includes five varieties to taste, along with tasting notes and pairing suggestions from Poe. $45


Fox Flight Club at Fox & the Knife 
For the amaro aficionado in your life — or anyone interested in learning more about this spirits category — Fox & the Knife’s Fox Flight Club is a worthwhile investment. The subscription-based club just launched its second iteration, which ships one box to subscribers each month in January, February, and March. Each box contains three amari, aperitivi, and digestivi, along with cocktail recipes and product information. A bonus: For this iteration, Fox & the Knife will donate $10 from each subscription to No Kid Hungry’s Taste of the Holidays fundraiser. Sign up for the Fox Flight Club by Dec. 24. $230

Wine club at Frank
For some armchair vineyard travel, Frank McClelland’s Beverly restaurant, Frank, has curated a customizable wine club with the option to choose from three-, six-, and 12-bottles delivered each month. Each box might include hard-to-find wines, small producers, great values, or tried-and-true favorites; orders will be shipped on the 15th of each month. Starts at $85

Macarons by Josh Ganache

Macarons by Josh Ganache.

Macarons by Josh Ganache
When Joshua Livsey and Kerry Loria launched Macarons by Josh Ganache earlier this year, the Harvest pastry chefs were looking for a creative way to keep busy while the restaurant was temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Now they’re making some of the best macarons in the city, and recently introduced a holiday box in two sizes: six pieces for $18 and 12 pieces for $30. Flavors include spiked eggnog, gingerbread latte, candy cap, champagne grapefruit, sugar plum, and chocolate peppermint, and a portion of the proceeds from each box is donated to the Loveland Foundation, which helps provide mental health services to Black women and girls. $18–$30


Maccabee at Home
Now in its third year, Naomi Levy’s pop-up Hanukkah bar, Maccabee Bar, is back for another month-long celebration, serving festive cocktails and bites at Bow Market in Somerville. If you aren’t able to celebrate Hanukkah with friends and family this year, sending one of Levy’s Maccabee at Home kits might be the next best thing. The kit includes a dreidel, gelt, crafts, and two single-serve bottled Maccabee Bar cocktails, plus treats from other local purveyors: hummus and flatbread from Humaari and two mini jelly doughnuts from Lionheart Confections. $49.99

Cooking classes from Mei Mei
We’re all cooking at home more these days, so for those looking to expand their kitchen repertoire, a virtual cooking class from Mei Mei chef-owner Irene Li might be a savvy gift. Li’s dumpling making classes have long been lauded, but she’s recently added a “Tofu for Everyone: Beyond the Basics” class that caters well to vegans. Need something a little more advanced? Li also teaches a hand-pulled noodle master class that would be great to gift to the adventurous cooks in your life. $33–$45

Pasta kits from Pammy’s 
The quickest way to a pasta lover’s heart? Quite possibly a plate of Pammy’s beloved lumache or spaghetti, both of which you can now order as a DIY kit. The Cambridge trattoria offers a spaghetti kit for four (16-ounce jar of umami spaghetti sauce, house spaghetti) and a bolognese kit for four (16-ounce jar of bolognese sauce, house lumache) to recreate some of Pammy’s most popular dishes at home. $36–$40


Beanies from Project Paulie
While there are plenty of restaurants selling sweatshirts, hats, pins, and other swag, Project Paulie’s colorful headware stands out. The organization, which launched earlier this year as a way to help raise money for the struggling local restaurant community, has crafted a series of soft, playful beanies, with proceeds going toward various organizations, some of them restaurant-focused. A bright orange Sofi Beanie benefits Haley House, while the PB Beanie benefits Massachusetts Restaurants United$35

Malts & Merriment from Row 34
Spread some holiday cheer with Row 34’s 12-day beer box featuring individually wrapped bottles of seasonal brews, available to order via Toast through the restaurant’s website. Beer director Suzy Hays has put together this boozy advent calendar, and invites guests to join her each day on Instagram to unwrap one bottle, starting Dec 13. Pick up is at Row 34 locations in the Seaport or Portsmouth, N.H. between Dec. 2 and Dec. 6. $75 

Tawakal Halal Cafe's hot sauce

Owner Yahya Noor pours Tawakal’s hot sauce on a sambusa at Tawakal Halal Cafe in East Boston.

Hot sauce from Tawakal Halal Cafe
Consider this an excellent stocking stuffer. The East Boston Somali restaurant has developed an enthusiastic following dedicated to its housemade hot sauce, a family recipe made with fruits, vegetables, and a blend of spices. Gift it to the hot sauce buff in your circle (and maybe get one for yourself, too). $19

2021 Passholder Program at Yume Go Arukara
If you know, you know: Yume Go Arukara’s udon is arguably the best in town, and its passport program, which launched last year, is an udon-devotee’s dream, offering unlimited udon at the Cambridge noodle shop for an entire year. At $800, it also comes with an eye-popping price tag, though if you think about it as an investment in the tiny restaurant’s livelihood, that might soften the blow. Registration opens Dec. 5. $800


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