24 Chefs Share What They’re Cooking This (Socially Distanced) Thanksgiving – Forbes

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For many, this year’s Thanksgiving celebration will look different in light of the pandemic. Chefs around the country are also changing their plans, offering restaurant feasts to-go for diners to enjoy in the comfort and safety of their homes, adjusting their at-home menus for smaller gatherings (or mentally preparing for extra leftovers), and dropping off meals with family and friends they’re unable to eat with in person. The general themes of their Thanksgiving plans are adapting, making the best of a challenging situation, and remembering to be thankful.

Adam Rosenblum, executive chef and managing partner of Causwells in San Francisco, CA

“I’m frying a turkey, making mashed potatoes for my wife (her favorite) and getting a can of jellied cranberry sauce. It’s just going to be nice to have a day that the restaurant is closed, so my family can spend some quality time together and no one will be calling me!”

Ricky Dolinksy, co-owner of Tzarevna in NYC 

“Seeing as this is the year of the unconventional, we are taking it a little easier on Thanksgiving. For our parents, we confited some turkey breast and thighs in duck fat, so all they have to do is sear it in the pan. This ensures it stays juicy. The rest of the essentials have been individually portioned and made to be microwaveable. As for the wife and I, we are opting for all-in-one turkey burgers, where all the flavors of Thanksgiving will be in every bite. They will be seasoned with stuffing spices, filled with a cranberry and blood orange sauce, and served with caramelized sweet potato fries and sage aioli.” 

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Hunter Evans, head chef of Elvie’s in Jackson, MS 

“For a smaller, intimate dinner this year, I’m going with a whole fish! You get that fix of doing something unique and different, but it’s way more manageable, sustainable and probably local—you are also more likely to eat all of it. I’m pairing it with roasted potatoes with rosemary and sage, and a classic spinach madeleine.”

Trent Blodgett, chef and founder of Spice Tribe

“Like many families, we have decided to cancel our large gathering and instead celebrate in other ways. To me that means giving back, so this year I will be cooking for The City Eats to help bring individually wrapped Thanksgiving dinners of turkey, collard green stew and butternut squash to San Franciscans that might be experiencing food insecurity. I also plan on making apple pie empanadas to drop off to friends and family to enjoy with their meals.”

Jason Goldstein, recipe developer for Chop Happy

“This year I’m dropping Thanksgiving off to my mom! I’m making her a sheet pan Thanksgiving feast. Instead of a whole bird I’m going to make her a turkey breast that is brined overnight in buttermilk and smeared with herb butter. It’ll be served with asparagus, sweet potatoes and stuffing.”

Arjuna Bull, co-chef and co-owner of Luthun in NYC

“Under normal circumstances we invite friends and family (staff) to Luthun for food and wine festivities. But this year with the pandemic and concerns for all of our well-being, we’re skipping it. To replace those festivities, we’ll be cooking smaller birds, ducks and holiday sides to make holiday food baskets for our employees to safely enjoy in their own homes.”

Paul Griffin, chief culinary officer of BurgerFi

“Every year BurgerFi volunteers with the Big Heart Brigade to prepare Thanksgiving meals for those in need and cook up our burgers to keep the volunteers going. It’s incredible to witness the entire community coming together to prepare more than 75,000 meals, complete with all the fixings, in such a short amount of time. There are these massive ovens that hold 100 turkeys at a time, and distribution is set up to reach people all over South Florida. It’s humbling to know that there is so much need, and probably even more so this year. The event will be a little different for safety reasons (smaller groups and more spread out), but our commitment remains the same. We’re proud to lend our time and our food to help make a difference.”

Matt Brown, executive chef of Nomi Park at The Wayfinder Hotel in Newport, RI

“This year I’m skipping the big Thanksgiving gathering and spending time outdoors. I’ll be cozied up by my outdoor firepit with my dog and some whiskey and cider to keep warm.”

Maneet Chauhan, chef, author, television personality and founding partner and president of Morph Hospitality Group in Nashville, TN

“I’m planning to put an Indian twist on the classic meat and three that I’m calling the ‘Turkey & Nine’: a delicious tandoori chicken stuffed with vegetable biryani, plus nine small side dishes like cranberry chutney, green bean poriyal and sweet potato raita. For the tandoori turkey, I’ll skip the whole turkey and just use the breast and the legs. I’ll use an Instant Pot-style pressure cooker to have it cook in under 30 minutes. Simple and delicious!”

Caroline Schiff, head chef of Slow Up and pastry chef of Gage & Tollner and Fort Defiance in NYC

“My little pod (there’s four of us including myself) is having a mostly vegetarian meal, with a fancy cut of steak for the meat eaters. Since it’s such a small group, we can splurge a little bit on fancier ingredients like proteins or special cheeses that normally would be prohibitive if cooking for a large group. For me, I’m excited to go in on a spread of beautiful wild mushrooms as part of the menu. Who knows, maybe I’ll even buy a truffle?! I gotta check my bank account. For chefs, this time of year is typically really crazy and draining, but 2020 is way more low-key work-wise, for better or worse. Without a big family gathering, it’s a nice opportunity to slow down, go for a long run and catch up on some sleep and general wellness.”

Suzanne Cupps, executive chef of 232 Bleecker in NYC

“Thanksgiving will definitely look different this year. Instead of the many casseroles of years past, I’ll be cooking more fresh and simple vegetable dishes along with my bird. Roasted shiitake mushroom and leek panzanella, smashed and pan-fried butterball potatoes, and a chicory, koginut squash and apple salad. And of course I will have to make gravy and open a can of cranberry jelly. There will still be leftovers but not as much to wash!”

Melissa Weller, baker in residence of Gertie in NYC and author of A Good Bake: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Breads at Home

“I’m cooking a whole turkey! I thought about it and decided that for my emotional well-being, a whole roasted turkey was what I wanted to do. Everything else will be super simple—fresh vegetables, a potato puree—but I want to cook a perfect dry-brined bird with gorgeous amber skin. It’s my mood-booster and will make the holiday feel special to me this year.”

Brooke Williamson, Top Chef Winner and chef/owner of Playa Provisions in Los Angeles, CA

“This year, my husband and I plan on cooking the annual feast, but in smaller portions. I’ve been baking pies, desserts and other baked goods to drop off at friends’ houses for months now. There was a period where I was delivering flan to friends twice a week just to let them know I was thinking about them, and I plan to continue these little surprises throughout the holiday season.” 

Soogil Lim chef/owner of Soogil in NYC

“I usually spend my Thanksgivings with family and close friends, but this year it’s only going to be my wife and son since we can’t gather in large groups. Rather than doing a whole turkey, I’m going to make a boneless turkey roulade with turkey and foie gras sausage, similar to what we will be offering at Soogil on Thanksgiving. I usually make Korean-style braised short ribs as well, but it requires four hours of braising to make the beef and vegetables tender and juicy. Instead, I will make soy marinated LA-style grilled Korean ribs. For dessert, we will have my son’s favorite: Sikhye (rice punch). It’s a traditional sweet Korean drink made of fermented malt and rice. It has a malty flavor and is a nice way to end a big meal.” 

Deborah Williamson, founder of James in NYC

“This year our Thanksgiving at James is takeaway with a menu created for groups of two, four or six people. We have turkey from Pallman Farms along with a slew of sides and desserts for a cozy holiday at home. There’s some interesting logistical challenges with takeaway but we’re excited to see it come together. It’s always been an honor to feed people for Thanksgiving and become a part of their tradition, but even more so this year.” 

Rob McDaniel, chef and owner of Helen in Birmingham, AL

“We, along with the rest of the world, have changed Thanksgiving plans several times. My mom does most of the heavy lifting for Thanksgiving but we have agreed to cut back on the amount of food we put on the table this year. Things will be different as we won’t all be sitting around one table. Instead, there will be several tables, placed both indoors and outdoors to social distance our family. It’s crazy to think we have to distance from our own families to keep everyone safe but it is necessary for loved ones with compromised immune systems. We will be doing a whole turkey and our greatest hits sides. For dessert, we will have two of our family’s staples: pecan pie and coconut cake. It will be a different Thanksgiving for sure but despite all the troubles 2020 has given us we have much more to be thankful for.”

Doron Wong, executive chef at Lotus + Cleaver in NYC and partner at Rivers and Hills Hospitality Group

“This Thanksgiving I will be cooking a small meal with my immediate family (mom, wife and son). Normally my wife’s family would join us but due to the pandemic, they unfortunately will not be. On the menu this year is seawater brined turkey, Chinese sausage stuffing made with milk bread, and sweet potatoes. The highlight of Thanksgiving is the day after when we make turkey congee (rice porridge) with ginkgo nuts!”

Craig Knapp, general manager of Café Intermezzo in Nashville, TN

“Our family will be having filet mignon, lobster tails, horseradish mashed potatoes and asparagus. We will also have homemade banana pudding. We are changing our traditions this year from years past, not in response to the pandemic, but because we recognize that this year we should reward ourselves with our favorite foods. It’s been a tough year for all and a year of drastic changes for my family. Our home will be filled with love and football; being from Dallas we will watch the Cowboys while indulging in our favorite foods. A holiday is not special if we forget our fur babies—Walter and Tucker will share a filet mignon as well!”

Mee McCormick, chef and founder of Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile in Nunnelly, TN

“This year we are only hosting our immediate family, which is just four of us. To mix things up we are making Thanksgiving tacos with all the holiday fixings—think sweet potato turkey hash topped with cranberry sauce salsa that’s served with a side of Thanksgiving rice and beans made with sage, carrots, celery and onions. Deviating from the classic menu makes sense this year as an entire turkey and fixings would be way too much food. Using classic ingredients and flavors keeps the comfort of what we remember, yet this twist brings a spark of excitement to our holiday table.” 

Jake Kwan-Rosenbush, executive chef of Townhouse in Emeryville, CA 

“Thanksgiving is a ritual in our house. We have the same thing every year, but this year the celebration is definitely going to be smaller. We always have brined and roasted turkey, stuffing and cornbread dressing to fulfill my wife’s Southern needs, along with this incredible Southern-style savory corn pudding she makes. It’s like a savory soufflé with corn, poblano peppers, havarti cheese, cream, egg and bacon with spices. Every year my wife makes three pies: a salted caramel apple pie with crumb topping, a classic pumpkin, and a chocolate custard pie with Swiss meringue. We’re still trying to decide which of these pies to cut, or if we should just make them all.”

Katie Coss, executive chef of Husk Nashville in Nashville, TN

“Typically, I cook for the masses both at the restaurant and at home for Thanksgiving. For most chefs, going to someone’s house for a meal, no matter which holiday, involves answering questions, fixing Pinterest recipes or just cooking the whole meal ourselves. Every holiday for me is my own Chopped challenge, and I love it. This year I will be scaling back my dinner for just two (which I have never done) and making pies for my neighbors. I will most likely still make two pies for just my husband and I because who doesn’t want a whole pie to themselves during this interesting time?”

Cedric Vongerichten, executive chef and owner of Wayan in NYC

“This year at Wayan, we’re offering Thanksgiving turkey dinners for guests to pick up or have delivered for the first time as so many of us will be celebrating at home. When developing the holiday menu, we wanted to include a festive dessert and eventually landed on a decadent ube pie. It’s our twist on traditional, but a dish I’m really proud of. I’m planning to send a pie to all of our close friends and will definitely be bringing one to my family Thanksgiving celebration.”

Vitaly Paley, owner of Paley’s Place in Portland, OR

“There’s never been a holiday when I’m not working, and this year is no different. If I wasn’t working I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. At the restaurant, the focus this year is on comfort: a roasted turkey breast and braised leg with sausage, apple and mushroom bread pudding, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and gravy, as well as familiar Pacific Northwest dishes like our Dungeness crab chowder.” 

Marc Therrien, executive chef and managing director of Keeneland Hospitality

“I find cooking at home for my family on Thanksgiving day extremely special since I’ve been cooking for the masses for many years. I’ve been thinking about this meal for about a month and have decided to do the following dishes: I’ll choose a free-range turkey and debone it myself at home. I plan to cure and confit the bird in duck fat low and slow, then roast the bones to make a sexy giblet gravy. Next on the list will be a family recipe of meat and potato stuffing utilizing ground veal, pork and beef. This recipe brings me back to my childhood every time with the fragrant hints of toasted cinnamon and nutmeg. As our side dish, I’ll be doing caramelized Brussels sprouts with my bacon jam that has hints of hot pepper vinegar and coffee. My wife loves to bake, so she plans on building a beautiful sweet potato pie with a flaky crust and dollop of country crème on top. I can’t think of a better meal for our family to enjoy and celebrate the day after a crazy year!”

Source: Thanks https://www.forbes.com/sites/abigailabesamis/2020/11/24/24-chefs-share-what-theyre-cooking-this-socially-distanced-thanksgiving/