How Four Chefs Plan to Spend Thanksgiving

Chefs — they’re just like us! — but with expertly prepared dishes on their Thanksgiving tables, of course. Find out how four pros plan on spending the holiday, and steal their secrets to make your meal even more special.

Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby

Chefs and co-owners of Vedge , an award-winning vegan restaurant in Philadelphia. The couple co-wrote Vedge , a cookbook based on the menu at their fine dining restaurant, and recently partnered with Whole Foods Market on Wiz Kid , a vegan luncheonette-style eatery in the newly opened Philly Center Store.

Their Thanksgiving: “We watch football, have cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a massive dinner — sometimes at Vedge if we have a big enough crowd. It’s about the harvest and about giving thanks for all of the wonderful vegetables.”

Their secret for a delicious dinner: “It’s important to make your food colorful. We’ve all been guilty of serving years of ugly food at Thanksgiving — the food on your table doesn’t have to be brown and gray. We’re huge fans of fresh vegetables and seasonal color. Keep the flavors bright and beautiful. For main dishes, think about a big hearty centerpiece — knife and fork foods. Two recipes from our cookbook — Thanksgiving Root Stew and Roasted Kabocha Squash with Black Trumpet Mushrooms — are great examples. If you serve delicious food, no one is going to care that there’s no meat.”

Their favorite tradition: “We go around the table and talk about what we’re thankful for.  That’s the essence of the holiday.” 

Erik Bruner-Yang

Chef and owner of Maketto, a restaurant, coffee bar and boutique that serves up Cambodian- and Taiwanese-inspired dishes on H Street in Washington, D.C. Chef Bruner-Yang recently partnered with Whole Foods Market on Paper Horse, a ramen concept counter located in the Foggy Bottom and Pentagon City Stores.

His Thanksgiving: “My wife and I will be heading to Maketto with our two kids early in the morning to open up the coffee shop. I always hated it that I couldn’t get a good cup of coffee on a holiday morning, so I like to open it up for the neighborhood. We stay until about 11, and then head home to start cooking a full meal for about 10 or 11 people. Part of our meal is always traditional — we always roast a turkey, make mashed potatoes, and last year we made green bean casserole with fried onions. Then we add whatever else we want to the table — we like to play with adding Asian flavors like fermented vegetables, chiles and sauces to traditional dishes. We freestyle it.”

His pro trick: “Mashed potatoes should be equal parts potato and butter.”

His holiday secret weapon: “Fish sauce. Last year we did a Brussels sprouts salad with a fish sauce dressing and nuts. The unexpected flavor was a big hit.”

Amy Eubanks

Global Culinary Development Coordinator for Whole Foods Market in Austin, Texas with experience as a chef de cuisine and executive chef at top restaurants like Café Boulud, BLT Fish and L’Amico in New York City. Chef Eubanks has recently relocated to Texas to work on developing new ideas and recipes for prepared foods at Whole Foods Market.

Her Thanksgiving: “I typically don’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving on the actual day since the holidays get crazy in the restaurant industry. I’m more of a Friendsgiving person. When I lived in New York, we’d celebrate with four adults, four kids and me. I host and handle roasting the turkey, and I like for everyone else to bring their favorite side.  My friends follow a mishmosh of special diets — vegan, kosher, diabetic, so it’s great for everyone to bring what they like to eat.”

Her secret for a juicy bird: “I do love turkey . I brine it — that’s pretty important. Then, I whip up a compound butter with sage and shallot, and rub that up underneath the skin, which crisps the skin from the inside out. You have to baste the turkey, but not too often. Stick it in the oven, and give it a little attention about once an hour. Load up on vegetables on the bottom of the roasting pan — they will meld with the juices for a delicious gravy.”

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