Home for the Holidays with New York City Chefs

Ah, the holidays. A time for eating, cozying up by the fire, eating, caroling, and more eating. How will New York City chefs be celebrating this yuletide? We got in touch with a bunch of them to see what their feasting entails, and what was the best gift Santa ever brought them.

Shaun Hergatt
Shaun Hergatt

Shaun Hergatt, SHO Shaun Hergatt

What are some of the annual Christmas/holiday cooking or baking traditions in your household?

At Christmas we always cook a lot of Australian favorites such as a pavlova and lamingtons (jam-filled sponge squares covered in chocolate and desiccated coconut) and sausage rolls and mini meat pies.

Where will you be spending Christmas, and what are some of the foods you'll be eating?

I will be spending Christmas local. We will be feasting on lobsters, crab, and lots of wine!

Which makes for a great holiday drink and why: punch, eggnog, champagne, or mulled wine?

Champagne. It's light, it's refreshing, and it goes down well.

What's your favorite food to eat on a cold night?

Roast lamb chops, chicken tika massala, and naan bread.

What's the best food-related holiday gift you've ever received?

Kangaroo meat.

What are you asking Santa for Christmas this year?

A Canon EOS 50D Mark II.

 

Michael Psilakis, Kefi and FishTag

What are some of the annual Christmas/holiday cooking or baking traditions in your household?

Christmas is the one holiday where I hardly cook at all. On Christmas Eve, we have a traditional Italian dinner, and I always make linguini and clams. On Christmas morning, we wake up really early to open presents and make a huge breakfast: pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, chicken salad, smoked salmon, and apple turnovers. Then for Christmas dinner, we have a blowout traditional Greek dinner, which always includes lamb.

Where will you be spending Christmas, and what are some of the foods you'll be eating?

On Christmas Eve, my sister-in-law hosts the traditional Italian fish dinner. The big breakfast happens at my house, and then we go over to my mother's house on Christmas evening for the traditional Greek dinner.

Which makes for a great holiday drink and why: punch, eggnog, champagne, or mulled wine?

My preference is to start the meal off with champagne. Bubbles always bring cheer more than anything else. With the food, we drink wine because it really is the ultimate food enhancer. There's a Greek term called "kefi," which describes a blissful union between food, drink, and company that makes you forget about all other materialistic concerns and vanities. For me, Christmas is about trying to achieve kefi. Wine is a great vehicle for this.

What's your favorite food to eat on a cold night?

One of my favorite dishes to eat on a cold night is stewed lamb with a big piece of bread. It's a really warm, hearty dish and is delicious comfort food. It's also a dish my mother made for me a lot growing up, so I associate great memories with the taste and aroma of it.

What's the best food-related holiday gift you've ever received?

When I first started cooking, my wife bought me a copy of my chef Michael Bras's cookbook, and it really changed my life. His recipes and passion for food resonated with me, and it made me understand food in a way I hadn't before. Food started to make sense to me after that book.

What are you asking Santa for Christmas this year?

All chefs by nature are gift givers, but I think we can also be bad gift takers. My wife's been asking me what I want for Christmas for the last six months, because she knows how difficult I can be. My real Christmas wish is just to spend more time with my family in the coming year. I have a wife, a five-year-old son, and a four-month-old son, and everything revolves around family. I'm hoping Santa can help me find a better balance between work and family.

 

Jehangir Mehta, Mehtaphor

What are some of the annual Christmas/holiday cooking or baking traditions in your household?

Eggnog and Christmas pudding.

Where will you be spending Christmas, and what are some of the foods you'll be eating?

At home with family and friends, and we generally make turkey with chili mash potatoes.

Which makes for a best holiday drink and why: punch, eggnog, champagne, or mulled wine?

Eggnog.

What's your favorite food to eat on a cold night?

Persian-style braised lamb shank, which is very traditional.

What's the best food-related holiday gift you've ever received?

A very traditional spicy Persian fudge called Vasanu.

What are you asking Santa for Christmas this year?

Peace.

 

Paul Liebrandt, Corton

What are some of the annual Christmas/holiday cooking or baking traditions in your household?

Mince pies, beautiful and simple.

Where will you be spending Christmas, and what are some of the foods you'll be eating?

I'll be home in New York City this year. I always cook a full English breakfast on Chrismas Day. Soft scrambled eggs and black truffles are a Christmas favorite.

Which makes for a best holiday drink and why: punch, eggnog, champagne, or mulled wine?

Mulled wine for sure on Christmas Eve. While reading A Christmas Carol!

What's your favorite food to eat on a cold night?

Soup. Homemade clam chowder is always a winner.

What's the best food-related holiday gift you've ever received?

My first Masamoto knife 15 years ago, and I still have it. It was given to me by my ex-girlfriend.

What are you asking Santa for Christmas this year?

Peace on earth and goodwill to all.

 

Julia Jaksic, Employees Only

What are some of the annual Christmas/holiday cooking or baking traditions in your household?

Every Christmas my grandmother bakes a cake on which she writes "Happy Birthday Jesus." We all sing happy birthday to Jesus, and the youngest in the family gets to blow out the candles.

Where will you be spending Christmas and what are some of the foods you'll be eating?

I've made no plans. It's been a busy holiday season so sleeping in is on my agenda.

Which makes for a best holiday drink and why: punch, eggnog, champagne, or mulled wine?

Since my family is Croatian my father infuses Slivovitz (a damson plum brandy) with honey. This is our Christmas drink.

What's your favorite food to eat on a cold night?

Goulash with mashed potatoes.

What's the best food-related holiday gift you've ever received?

My Easy-Bake Oven when I was 10.

Have a tip or restaurant-related news? Send it to fork@villagevoice.com.


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