The Hublot Big Bang Gourmet and 4 Must-Have Gifts for the Home Chef
The keys to cooking a delicious meal begin with sourcing the best ingredients, but that is merely the beginning of the journey. The next, and perhaps more challenging step, is to find the right tools for the recipe. That is why, today, using the Hublot Big Bang Unico Gourmet made of Damascus steel as our guide, we explore the gifts any home chef would relish getting this holiday season.
As in watchmaking, gastronomy can range from simple and straightforward to complex and sophisticated. In both disciplines, your path follows the dictates of need (be it the needs of a design or recipe), and, over time, your expertise will grow. Likewise, if you want to innovate in either gastronomy or watchmaking, you have to reach beyond your comfort zone and remember that simplicity combined with improved technique will lead you to create something different or even superior to the original.
I cook every day; and I can confidently say I know my way around a kitchen. But I wasn’t always so self-assured. When I started out and realized I wanted to improve, the first thing I would ask myself after finishing a recipe was: “What did I do wrong?” Answering this question led me to learn the fundamentals of cutting, cooking, textures, the interaction of flavors, and more. And slowly, you could start your cooking journey. But to move on your quest, you will need proper tools.
The Cutting Edge: Hublot’s 42mm Big Bang Gourmet Unico
With eight Michelin-star chefs as active ambassadors, Hublot is an active presence in the world of haute cuisine. Indeed, high gastronomy complements the brand’s fundamentals. Moreover, chefs like Anne-Sophie Pic, Yannick Alléno, and Andreas Caminada among its stable, Hublot continues to remind us that expertise, be it in watchmaking or cooking, is about movement, materials, and form. And with its Big Bang Unico Gourmet featuring Damascus steel, Hublot has created the perfect visual parallel that bridges the gap between gastronomy and watchmaking.
First known as wootz steel in India circa 300 BCE, Damascus steel (named for the Middle Eastern capital) refers to a technique of hammering and bending steel that makes it more resistant. That is why, today, Damascus steel knives have reign supreme in the gourmet kitchen.
This 42mm Big Bang Unico Gourmet’s case, bezel, and caseback are made with Damasteel. Forged, folded, re-folded, then finally pressed (not unlike the process of making puff pastry), Damasteel is a metallic composite made from two types of steel – the darker in color 304L steel made primarily of carbon and the lighter 316L steel. Visually, the result of this process is extremely impactful.
Limited to 200 pieces and available only via the brand’s online store, this chronograph comes with a deployant black rubber strap featuring a one-click titanium buckle and a cool black VELCRO strap made from the same fabric as cooking aprons. Disruptive as it is relevant, the Big Bang Unico Gourmet is exactly what I expect from Hublot.
Lethal Weapons: Kai Shun’s Nakiri & Santoku Chef’s Knives
The Shun series by renown Japanese knifemaker Kai Shun is probably the best entrance door to high-end, professional-grade knives made with Damascus steel. And while classical German or Austrian knives are highly coveted by chefs, I adamantly believe that once you’ve handled the ergonomic and ebony-finished Pakkawood handles of a Kai Shun knife, you won’t want to use anything else.
If you’re starting out, you don’t need a ton of knives. In fact, you really only need one that can do the job of basic a paring knife. And for that, I recommend the Classic Nakiri 6.5” knife, featuring a 34-layer Damascus steel, non-serrated blade. Although it is technically a vegetable slicer, the Nakiri is an excellent universal knife.
If one knife just isn’t enough, I recommend the Classic Hollow Ground Santoku 7” knife. Designed more for cutting meat and fish, this award-winning, wear and corrosion resistant Damascus steel blade comes with a lifetime warranty and is another excellent general-purpose kitchen knife.
A Chemical Romance: Chemist Hervé This' Molecular Gastronomy Book
Now that you’ve found the perfect knives, you’ll need to start improving your cooking technique and flavor combinations. For that, I highly recommend the book Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor by Hervé This.
Initially published in 2002, chemist Hervé This approaches flavor by describing the chemical, physical, and biological processes behind cooking methods. And it isn’t overstating the case to say this book ignited a revolution in the cooking world. Whether you cook every day or prefer supping in restaurants, if you want to call yourself a foody, then you need to study this book. Trust me; you won’t regret it.
Cocktail Hour: Riedel’s Bar Drink Specific Glassware
Okay, so you’ve got knives and technique covered. But what if you want to provide your guests with an aperitivo? Look no further than Austrian glass manufacturer Riedel, whose reputation among wine enthusiasts and at the chef’s table is not to be outdone.
Known for its large range of wine glasses and decanters, for cocktail hour, I recommend Riedel’s comprehensive range of cocktail glasses called Drink Specific Glassware. Among all the classic glassware shapes in mixology, for the purposes of versatility, I advise getting both a set of Double Rocks Glasses and the Drink Specific Glassware Mixing Glass from the same range.
With its typical heavy base and vertical engraving, this pair of crystal rocks glasses is the perfect vessel for a Negroni, two fingers of Scotch, and everything in between. Finally, this range’s charming crystal mixing glass is simply a must-have for any home bar.
The Indoor Garden: Click and Grow’s Smart Garden 3
The system works with capsules, kind of like the ones for coffee machines but with soil and seeds instead of coffee. Biodegradable, these pods include all the nutrients needed to grow the seeds inside. Plus, besides the fact you will have fresh herbs in the kitchen all year round, the Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 is quiet, compact, and elegantly designed. Available in white, grey, or beige, the Smart Garden 3 comes with a basil start kit.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)