Illustrations by Lisk Feng

David and Corey Menkes started making their own chocolate in 2014, out of the two-bedroom, 900-square-foot Cheviot Hills apartment the couple also lived in. They make micro batches of single origin chocolate with beans from Guatemala, Peru, Liberia and other countries of origin. Just for the holidays, LetterPress Chocolate is making mint chocolate bars with beans from Trinidad.

(LetterPress Chocolate)

If you’re addicted to the spicy sausage paste called ’nduja, then you might want some stuff that comes from closer than Calabria. Bava Brothers is a Los Angeles-based company run by brothers Steven and Eric Bava, whose grandfather brought his recipe when he immigrated from Italy in 1921. Made in Atascadero, their ’nduja is made from their own sopressata, blended with tomatoes, garlic and spices.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

When Karen Klemens opened her ice cream shop in Sierra Madre in 2011, she didn’t just churn ice cream: She also started making pies and jams and candy. Klemens’ jams are fantastic, made from the same locally sourced fruits (strawberry, apricot-rose) that she puts into her ice creams and pies. Available at two locations: Sierra Madre, 17 Kersting Court, and 1006 Mission St., South Pasadena.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Nan Kohler’s Pasadena milling company specializes in the milling of local grains, and this year Grist & Toll has been producing flour from the Tehachapi Grain Project, where farmers Alex Weiser and Jon Hammond have been working to reestablish heirloom grains. Kohler has milled Tehachapi-grown Sonora and Red Fife heirloom wheats as well as Abruzzi rye. The flour comes with recipes.

(Grist & Toll)

When chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo opened their pizzeria Jon & Vinny’s, at 412 N. Fairfax Ave in Los Angeles, their longtime beverage director Helen Johannesen opened Helen’s Wines, a wine room and retail shop inside the restaurant. Johannesen has gift boxes, with wine, as well as handmade pasta and a recipe from the restaurant. Delivery in Los Angeles only.

(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Vernon-based Melissa's is the largest distributor of specialty produce in the country. The company is particularly good with tiny vegetables, which they will load into a gift basket for you. Seasonal baby varieties may include orange cauliflower, purple potatoes, zucchini, beets, rainbow carrots, leeks and radishes.


Winter marks the height of citrus season in California, and if you don’t have your own tree, Pearson Ranch of Porterville in the San Joaquin Valley will send some of the best. Give a box of Pomelos, pink variegated lemons or Meyer lemons with holiday delivery.

(Pearson Ranch)

Entrepreneur Scott Tavenner devised this wine-saving carafe with a float inside that creates a physical barrier between oxygen and wine; the float stays in place while pouring from the carafe. And if you know wine-loving picnickers, the sleek glass wine-saver also comes in plastic.


Harbor City-based tamale company Corn Maiden makes and ships varieties of chicken, pork, beef, cheese, vegan, and even dessert tamales. Gift boxes include one dozen mixed tamales and sauce. Prices include overnight shipping.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The Lau family runs a Los Angeles-based company that makes an X.O.-style chile sauce they call Lahht Sauce, named for the Cantonese word for "hot." What’s inside? A heady mixture of fermented black beans, bacon, Yunnan chiles, dried shrimp and lots of spices.

(Lahht Sauce)

Behold, a portable pizza oven. The wood-burning Uuni oven can reach 900 degrees in about 10 minutes and can fully bake a pizza in one to two minutes, depending on size and toppings. It would be a blast for outdoor parties, where everyone prepares their own individual pies.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Made with organic Durham wheat semolina, Leah Ferrazzani’s pastas are extruded through bronze dies in small batches — they have a rough texture that really holds on to sauces — then slow-dried at her Lincoln Heights production company. The pastas come in six shapes, including fusilli, creste di gallo and strozzapreti.


When Chad Corzine tried growing vegetables in his DTLA apartment, things got messy. So he created self-contained grow kits of organic flower, herb, vegetable seeds and soil, which he placed in containers made from recycled tea sacks. Corzine also makes herbal cocktail kits, which include seeds, bar accessories and a drink recipe.

(Ricardo DeAratanha)

When Eli Broad’s art museum the Broad opened last year in downtown L.A., not only did we get more works by Damien Hirst and Cindy Sherman, we also got a little olive grove next door. The same folks who put in the trees, a company called, appropriately, Ancient Olive Trees, also uses its Arbequina and Arbosana green olives to make bottles of extra virgin olive oil, which you can get at the museum gift shop, maybe to pair with your little Basquiat espresso cups.

(The Broad)

Tea-lover Sashee Chandran’s Silicon Valley desk was cluttered with tea brewing equipment and scattered with tea leaves. So Chandran invented Tea Drops, organic compressed teas, blended with spices, and a little raw sugar, that dissolve in hot water. Rose Earl Grey and herbal citrus ginger are two of her favorites.

(Tea Drops)

Los Angeles-based Hedley & Bennett began when Ellen Bennett worked as a line cook and realized she needed a better apron. Her company now makes aprons, chef coats, chef caps and table linens — including a limited-edition apron made of maple-colored recycled denim, a removable, leather neck strap and snap-adjustable waist strap.

(Hedley & Bennett Maple Apron)

Los Angeles woodworker Ryan Silverman and his wife, Eileen O’Dea, a former chef, use as many as 750 pieces of wood to make their one-of-a-kind end-grain cutting boards. Chefs, like Thomas Keller, a regular customer, prize the end-grain boards for preserving the sharpness of a knife’s edge.

(Wooden Palate)

Langer's Delicatessen has been serving its cured, smoked and steamed pastrami in Los Angeles since 1947. If you can’t make it to the restaurant in L.A., you can gift its most popular sandwich, the #19, hot pastrami, cole slaw, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese (which serves 2-4) or the classic pastrami sandwich kit (which serves 4-6) shipped vacuum-packed.

(Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times)

13 years ago, Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey bought the 1948 Sausalito Heath Ceramics factory and revitalized the company, hand-producing small runs of the beloved ceramics as well as introducing new lines. The Heath shallow salad bowl was designed by Edith Heath in the 1970s and is available in 10 colors, including two-tones.

(Jeffrey Cross/Heath Ceramics)

The four Giacomini sisters returned to their father's Point Reyes dairy farm to create the first California blue cheese, made with milk from their own farm. The Original Blue, Bay Blue and Toma cheeses have all received multiple awards and are available both individually and in gift packs.

(Point Reyes)

Sous vide cooking is all the rage. So are connected home devices. The Anova Precision Cooker Bluetooth + Wi-Fi offers the best of both trends, letting you cook a perfect steak from the office (so long as you did all the prep before you left in the morning).

(John Bedell Photography)

Next: Gifts that Give Back

Credits: Illustrations by Lisk Feng. Credits: Ricardo DeAratanha, Vera Castaneda, Calvin Hom, Rene Lynch, Kathy Pyon, Steve Elders, Ruthanne Salido, Alice Short, Alene Dawson, Kavita Daswani, Roy M. Wallack, Melinda Fulmer, Jessica Ritz, Ben Muessig, Jeanette Marantos, Terry Gardner, Janet Kinosian, Davis Alexander, Amy Scattergood, Ingrid Schmidt, Kenneth Turan, Tre’vell Anderson, Amy Kaufman, Meredith Woerner, Glenn Whipp and Evan Wagstaff. Design and development by Lily Mihalik.