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Best food experiences and at-home kits to gift in 2021

With both in-person and at-home options, these interactive gifts will satisfy the curious food lover on your list.

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

For the home chef equipped with a trusty Dutch oven and sharp chef's knife, a great food experience is the gift that won't just collect dust or get regifted. The challenges of the past few years inspired a host of new and quality virtual food experiences and online lessons to choose from. And now, many of the best edible in-person experiences are back in some form. That's a good thing because food folk love a good interactive experience to learn a fresh trick or trade. 

These days, it's no longer enough to just taste that bottle of Burgundy or Iberico ham. Seeing, touching, feeling and learning about our favorite food and drink have become an important part of the equation, and the industry offerings followed suit. From online cooking classes to in-person food tours and some excellent DIY home cooking kits, tastings and guides, food brands have been creating experiences of all kinds. We've rounded up some of the best memory-making experiences to give a food lover, from the affordable to the extravagant.

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.


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.


If you're gifting this book, it should come with a loud and clear disclaimer. Foraging and eating the foods you find can be very dangerous. Though it can be fun, it requires some professional guidance. Bradford Angier's popular book teaches you to recognize edible plants, fruits, berries and nuts. This portable guide even explains how to find bird eggs to scramble or catch edible insects.

There's even a very brief section on cannibalism etiquette. No, I'm not kidding.

Vice Wine

This fun wine tasting kit tests your palate and welcomes you to show off your skills. The three bottles come shrouded in mystery and beckon you and your friends to try and then guess what varietals you're drinking. There are tasting charts to jot down thoughts and then see how right or, in my case, horribly wrong your guesses were.

 Shipping is free on this fun and interactive wine experience.


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.

Bean Box

Bean Box is a coffee club but they've got some unique gift boxes. My pick goes to this coffee and chocolate tasting kit. These two indulgences are a truly classic pairing on par with PB&J and the sampler box features four freshly roasted coffees (1.8 ounces each) paired with four artisan chocolates and tasting notes for each. 

I'd say it's hard to go wrong with this one.

Tadka Tarot

Tadka Tarot isn't the typical deck of your tarot cards. You'll get 28 illustrated cards that teach you how to cook more intuitively through the lens of traditional Indian ingredients, mostly vegetables and spices. Each card will dive into the flavor profile so you're not just following recipes but learning how to create your own from the ground up.

The deck alone is $35. The complete kit for $150 includes the deck, seven essential Indian spices and a masala dabba to store your new spices.

Uncommon Goods

For a prospective bread baker, this experiential kit has the essentials for getting your sourdough starter, well, started. The bundle includes three packets of instant sourdough culture, artisan salt (16 ounces), muslin cloth, a proper dough scraper and dough whisk. Plus there's a recipe book to whip up some very tasty bakes.  


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. 


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.


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

Here is all the fun and know-how of a private cooking class from world-class chefs, but from 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 each. 

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 eat 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 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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