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New York City Chefs Talk Turkey About Turkey Day: Josh Capon, Missy Robbins, Michael White, and More...

It's almost Turkey Day! How are you going to celebrate?
It's almost Turkey Day! How are you going to celebrate?
SliceofChic/Flickr

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Hopefully by now the turkey has been purchased and the pie crusts have been made. After all, this is the one time of year when everyone in America dons their chef whites. But how do bona fide chefs celebrate the holiday? We checked in with some of New York City's top chefs to learn how they'll be celebrating Turkey Day 2011.

Josh Capon, B & B and Lure Fishbar

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

I do an annual feast at my sister's place in New Jersey. Last year, we were up to 68 people, 1,000 chicken lollipops, and nine fried turkeys, and it was way too much for me. This year I told her the max is 25 people.

What are you thankful for this year?

My beautiful wife, two gorgeous, happy, and healthy kids, and two restaurants with amazing staff that truly are my extended family.

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving?

Who do you think? It's definitely my time to shine, and I love it. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. No religious boundaries; everyone celebrates Thanksgiving! We started a tradition of deep frying turkeys about eight years ago and never looked back. Took some time to perfect it, but we got it down pat!

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

As far as traditions, since we started the deep-frying thing, we usually start super early. We set up in the garage and start deep-frying batches of chicken lollipops at noon along with chili with all the fixings. [It's] definitely a sight to see. Everyone from the neighborhood comes by for some lollipops and chili early on. We call it the pre-game!

Thanksgiving midnight snacking: yes or no?

Hell no! I am usually sleeping by 9 p.m., happy and full!  

Dan Kluger, ABC Kitchen

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Cooking here at ABC. I have also decided to have my family come and eat dinner so I can see them, something new for us.

What are you thankful for this year?

My family, and the joy of watching my children grow up. Secondly, the success of ABC Kitchen and the ability to support our community of local farmers.

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table?

Stuffing, because it's the only time of the year that I ever eat anything like it.

Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions?

Somewhere along the way we broke away from the traditional Thanksgiving of just having family over and started to invite friends who had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving. We would end up with a group of about 10 people from all nationalities and most of them were not used to Thanksgiving or turkey. It was always a lot of fun to see everyone come together and converge over the turkey, so to speak.

Thanksgiving midnight snacking: yes or no?

Yes, another slice of pecan pie!  

Todd Macdonald, Villa Pacri

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Going to Chicago to meet my niece for the first time. It will just be my parents, my brother and his wife, and myself.

What are you thankful for this year?

That I have a good job at Villa Pacri and for my family.

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving?

My mom normally does the cooking. She makes an amazing bird! But this year, in an attempt to start a new tradition, I'm going to make a White Castle-stuffed turkey, since it will only be my immediate family and we all love White Castle.

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table?

I usually love the rutabagas -- they just seem to remind me of Thanksgiving since I don't eat them that often.

Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions?

Well, a Macdonald family tradition is that we alway drink exclusively American wines on Thanksgiving. Outside of that, it's just about spending time with the family. Although if the White Castle turkey is a hit, who knows? We may do it every year.  

Missy Robbins, A Voce and A Voce Columbus Circle

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Working at A Voce.

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving?

I usually cook along with my brother and mother; [it's] a group effort. It changes up every year, but always cornbread, turkey, squash, sweet potatoes -- pretty traditional, actually.

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving?

Stuffing. My mom's is awesome and moistened with a ton of schmaltz, and bread is my favorite food.

Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions?

At home after work, truffle crostini and champagne. A new tradition started a few years ago with other chefs.

Thanksgiving midnight snacking: yes or no?

Nope. [I'm] usually passed out by then.  

Michael White, Ai Fiori, Osteria Morini, and Marea

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

This year I am taking my wife to one of our favorite places -- Rockhouse in Jamaica -- to eat Thanksgiving jerk chicken on the beach.

What are you thankful for this year?

I am thankful for my customers, colleagues, employees, and family for making all of this possible.

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving?

Growing up, my parents in Wisconsin did all of the cooking. Nothing compares to oyster stuffing and Mary-Ann's corn pudding.

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table?

It is never fair to choose favorites -- that's why I only had one child.

Thanksgiving midnight snacking: yes or no?

There is always time for midnight snacking, especially on Thanksgiving.  

Brian Ray, Buddakan

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

We go to my girlfriend's parents' house every year. I get out of Buddakan around 1 a.m. on Wednesday night and we drive to southern Jersey. Then back to the restaurant for service on Friday.

Who does the cooking at your Thanksgiving?

I always do the cooking. The menu hasn't changed in three years. If it isn't broke, don't fix it. Roasted turkey and stuffing, black truffle gravy, parmesan-roasted garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato and chipotle gratin (à la Bobby Flay), blue cheese creamed kale with port wine candied walnuts, cranberry sauce with bourbon-vanilla and dried blueberries, and, of course, popovers!

What is your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table?

I have always loved my mom's stuffing. There is no secret, just stale bread, sautéed carrot, celery, onion, and garlic, lots of good, homemade turkey stock, and lots of herbs. It's simple and perfect.

Do you have any unique Thanksgiving traditions?

My childhood friends would all meet at a local school and play football. It didn't matter if it was raining or snowing. As we got older and fatter tackle turned to touch. About five years ago, one of my friends tore the meniscus in his knee while we were playing on the ice. His mother wanted to kill us as she drove him to the emergency room instead of having Thanksgiving dinner. We now meet at a local bar and play golden tee.

Thanksgiving midnight snacking: yes or no?

You eat dinner early on purpose. Snacking happens about two hours after dinner and lasts past midnight. The snacking can be better than the meal. I make a sandwich with the leftover popovers. I split it down the middle and put a little of everything that is left over inside. Don't judge me!

Check back in tomorrow, when more New York City chefs reveal their T-Day plans and menus.

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


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