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David Burke, Dale Talde, and Damon Wise (and Others) on Their Thanksgiving Memories: Interviews Part 2

Do chefs prefer the classic turkey and stuffing, or do they make fancy fare?
Do chefs prefer the classic turkey and stuffing, or do they make fancy fare?
Smiley Apple/Flickr

Yesterday we spoke with several New York City chefs about their upcoming Thanksgiving plans and learned all about the unique dishes they'll be making, from Todd Macdonald's White Castle-stuffed turkey to Josh Capon's hundreds of chicken lollipops. Today we hear from another batch of toques about how they'll be celebrating on Thursday.

David Burke, Fishtail, David Burke Townhouse, and David Burke Kitchen

What are you thankful for this year? 

I'm just thankful for being healthy. 

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving? 

My mom and sister usually do all the cooking, but this year chef Larry Baldwin of David Burke Fromagerie will be preparing it.

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table?

Scallops and Brussels sprouts to start, sausage stuffing, vanilla bean sweet potatoes, pumpkin blinis, cranberry sauce, and hot pecan pie with bourbon vanilla bean ice cream. All of these dishes are comforting to me and simultaneously remind me of home and of the dishes served at my restaurants. 

Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions or funny memories? 

I grew up in a family of mostly boys. I remember putting stuffing on my brother's seat before he sat down. Then there were the football games outside as we waited to eat. You know how a lot of players pat each other afterwards, saying "good game"? Well, we'd grab more handfuls of stuffing from the kitchen and leave a nice smear on each other's pants in the process. It was great.

Thanksgiving midnight snacking: yes or no? 

Yes. I enjoy making dark-meat turkey-cheddar melts. 

Mauro Maccioni, Le Cirque

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Spending time with my daughter Stella and taking her to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving?

My mother cooks a turkey for us with an Italian spin because the stuffing has sausage and porcini mushrooms. The full list of stuffing ingredients are chestnuts, porcini mushrooms, bread, apples, and sausage. Porcini mushrooms are my favorite, and what I like about the stuffing is the fusion of American and Italian ingredients.

Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions or funny memories from Thanksgivings past?

[When we served] corn to my uncle, who was a farmer from Tuscany, he said, "Corn is chicken feed, humans should not consume it." In our house we didn't always have the traditional American turkey for Thanksgiving. Sirio [Maccioni] doesn't eat turkey, and in Italy they do not have Thanksgiving, so naturally turkey isn't very popular. Sirio's favorite bird to eat is pigeon. Growing up we always had pigeon on Thanksgiving instead of turkey, and we thought that was normal. It wasn't until we started school that me and my brothers found out that pigeon wasn't the normal Thanksgiving traditional meal. We asked Sirio if we could eat turkey instead of pigeon like all the other kids we knew, and that is how we adopted the American traditional turkey dinner.

 

Philippe Bertineau, Benoit

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Cooking a delicious Thanksgiving meal for 500 people at Benoit.

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving?

My Thanksgiving consists of cooking at Benoit. I try to make a variety of things to please all palates, but the most important of course is the traditional, roasted Vermont-farm-raised turkey, with a foie gras and chestnut stuffing, cranberry chutney, and accompanied by a fricassee of baby potatoes, pearly onions, mushrooms, and salsify.

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table?

I like the stuffing because it reminds me of the way stews are made, like cassoulet, for example. It's all these ingredients and their flavors complementing each other in a great way.

Thanksgiving midnight snacking: yes or no?

It depends. If so, a shredded-turkey-leg sandwich with a beer.

Craig Wallen, Spasso

What are you thankful for this year? 

Roof over our head, food on the table.

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving? 

One of my grandmas was usually working away for a couple of days to make the big spread. I'm going to try and re-create a little combo of what they both used to make.

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table?

Corn casserole. I'm from casserole country so we do a lot of "one can of this, two boxes of that, and something fried on top to finish, bake in the oven until delicious." The corn one just hits all the right notes for me.

Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions or funny memories from Thanksgiving?

We'd split up the holidays for the two sides of the family, so after my grandmother on my father's side started getting older, we didn't want her to cook Thanksgiving dinner anymore, but if we had it at her place or someone else's, she would cook whether we asked her to or not. The only way to avoid her cooking was to go out to eat on Thanksgiving. The other problem is that my grandmother was a homebody and didn't really like to go out so refused to go to most places. The only place we could consistently convince her to go to was the Union 76 truck stop by Interstate 74 in Illinois. So there we were for several years having Thanksgiving dinner. Not the most picturesque, but we made the best of it.

 

Damon Wise, Monkey Bar

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving?

I usually do the cooking. Or, sometimes we go to a friend's house for a traditional potluck and everyone brings something. I always make and carve the turkey.

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table?

Turkey. Before and after Thanksgiving.

Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions?

My grandfather on my father's side was a waterman. On Thanksgiving, he would bring a big bag of fresh oysters to the garden area and we'd sit, shuck, and tell stories for hours while the ladies were inside preparing dinner. 

Thanksgiving midnight snacking: yes or no?

Yes. I'm always eating. 

Dale Talde, TALDE

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving? 

I'm from a really large family; I've got eight aunts on my mom's side and they do the majority of the cooking. A couple of cousins also pitch in. I do, and my cousins Andy and Cynthia. She's a great cook.

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table? 

We really don't do the traditional Thanksgiving. It's a potluck of a lot of Filipino food. My mom's wonton soup and my aunt's stewed oxtails with peanuts and shrimp paste are always my favorites. I'm reminded of my family when I eat those dishes -- that Ratatouille moment when you get sucked back into a time and place. [It's] total nostalgia.

Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions or funny memories? 

No real unique traditions, but our family had a total Jerry Springer moment one year with a drunk cousin and two 30-packs of Miller High Life.

For more dining news, head to Fork in the Road, or follow us @ForkintheRoadVV, or me @ldshockey.


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