R H Forschner 8-inch Chef's Knife, Black Fibrox Handle
The R.H. Forschner Chef's Knife by Victorinox (the Swiss Army knife people) is an incredibly good value for the home cook. Its quality rivals that of much more expensive brands like Wusthof. Extra sharp, well-balanced and comfortable for less than 30 bucks!
This knife consistently wins the Cooks Illustrated ratings of chefs knives. Once you buy one you'll see why. It's light, fits many sizes hands, sharpens well and is inexpensive to boot. Highly recommended.
Ok, you shouldn't give someone a knife (superstition says it will sever a friendship), but if you make them buy it from you for a buck or less, this is a great gift for a new chef. Outranking more expensive knifes by Cooks Illustrated, I've "sold" this knife to several people who use it daily and love it.