My Favorite Food Freebies of 2022

The most memorable swag I received as a food influencer this year.

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Package on doorstep
Photo: Daria Nipot (Shutterstock)

When I’m not making food TV shows, I spend a lot of time on Instagram, working. No, seriously. I might be posting about a story I just wrote or a recipe I just created or a restaurant I just visited. And sometimes I post swag. Yes, I get free stuff, mostly food-related, and in exchange I will share my experience with that product.

I don’t explicitly endorse anything merely because I received it for free, however. And the truth is that some of the products I receive fall squarely in the middle of the road. What follows is a list of the products I encountered this year that would be worth gifting to the food lover in your life. Don’t expect a hard sell for a life-changing product here—just an honest rundown the most memorable items to arrive at my doorstep.

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Photo: Ali Khan
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Traeger Hot Sauce

Full disclosure: I work with Traeger and have in the past done paid promotions with the brand (and regularly received product). Despite this relationship, I will say frankly that not all Traeger products are for me. I was only half interested when a box of hot sauce arrived from the company, but after sampling it, I was floored by how good it was. A cayenne-based hot sauce, this stuff is sort of like an elevated Frank’s Red Hot. Unlike Frank’s, the Traeger hot sauce must be refrigerated after opening; that’s probably why it has kept its zest and punch. Real talk on Traeger: I like the grill, I like the beef rub, and I like the hot sauce. If anyone wants a Traeger hat, though, they can have it. ($9.99 on Traeger.com)

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Photo: Ali Khan

Look Out Here I Come Flavored Olive Oils

Like the Traeger Hot Sauce package, I didn’t expect much from Look Out Here I Come olive oil. Weird name, right? My initial impression was that it’s not the sort of product I would use more than once. But it turns out these flavored olive oils are perfect for making a vinaigrette, and I eat lots of salads at home for lunch. Look Out Here I Come might have been aptly named after all. ($30 for three 5-oz. bottles on lookouthereicome.com)

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Photo: Ali Khan

Boardsmith Cutting Boards

This was my big-ticket item of the year, brought to me via a PR firm (thanks, Aimee & YC Media!). This beautiful cutting board was custom engraved for me and is one of the most premium items in my kitchen. It requires special care; in fact, I had to buy mineral oil for maintenance, so this freebie wasn’t entirely free. But that also speaks to the level of quality you can maintain if you put a little effort into it.

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While a nearly $400 personalized cutting board might seem like a wild act of vanity, there is craftsmanship to consider. These boards are known to be kind to your knives, since soft wood keeps the blades from dulling. I admit, though, that my main focus with the Boardsmith has been food photography. Aesthetics might not have been the brand’s original intention, but this board makes everything look good. ($125 to $520 on theboardsmith.com)

Image for article titled My Favorite Food Freebies of 2022
Photo: Ali Khan
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Nakano Knives

I have three European-style chef’s knives, a Santoku knife, a sashimi knife, two pairing knives, a carving knife, ceramic knives, and couple of cheap Cutco knives. When Nakano reached out with an offer, I literally told the company that the last thing I need is another knife.

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But Nakano makes a Nakiri knife, which is made for chopping vegetables, and I did have my eye on that. Nakano knives are fairly affordable, and if you are curious about adding a new specialized utility knife to your collection, I think this Nakano is a smart investment. If you love it, you can always upgrade for something fancy—but in my book, a workhorse knife, one that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, is a valuable tool to have in the shed. ($65 on nakano-knives.com)