Chef Chat: Thanksgiving

 

South Florida chefs give us some tips, tricks and stories for the holiday

1500 at Eden Roc chef Paula DaSilva
1500 at Eden Roc chef Paula DaSilva
 

By Valerie Nahmad

Ever wonder how a professional chef approaches Thanksgiving? We peeped into five South Florida kitchens for insider tips, crazy stories and holiday improv.

PAULA DaSILVA
Executive chef of 1500° at Eden Roc and Hell’s Kitchen alumnus

What is the worst thing you can do to a turkey when preparing it? 
Understanding that it takes hours to cook a turkey you still shouldn’t put it in the oven and forget about it.  Keep an eye on it, baste it.  Cooking’s about love and attention. 

If there were no more turkey's in the world, what would you serve as the main course? 
To play it safe I’d go chicken but wouldn’t a gorgeous porterhouse knock anyone’s socks off?  For the vegans there’s always stuffing and yams.   

What is the weirdest thing you have seen at a Thanksgiving Day table? 
It’s not weird to me but I once had some true-blue All-American friends over for Thanksgiving and they were really shocked that beans and rice were on the table.  I’m Brazilian; you can’t have a big important holiday meal without rice and beans!

HOWIE KLEINBERG
Chef/owner of Bulldog BBQ and the soon-to-open Bulldog Burger

What is the worst thing you can do to a turkey when preparing it?
Buying a tiny bird when you have a full house.  Remember a pound and a half of meat per person.  Gotta have the leftovers, too.  

If there were no more turkey's in the world, what would you serve as the main course? 
You have to ask?  A great BBQ brisket! 

What is the weirdest thing you have seen at a Thanksgiving Day table? 
Years ago my family and I were invited to the most amazing pot luck style Thanksgiving feast and someone brought turducken.  This was before anyone knew what turducken was and it really freaked me out.  Being curious I tried it and it was wonderful.  Weird but wonderful. 

LOUIS BOSSI
Executive Chef at Big City Tavern

What is the worst thing you can do to a turkey when preparing it?
The worst thing you can do is not season it. Butter and garlic are definitely important. Also, this might be a no brainer but for a first time turkey cook … make sure you remove the bag of guts! 

If there were no more turkey's in the world, what would you serve as the main course on Thanksgiving?
Sunday gravy with the tender pork cooked right in it served with rigatoni. In Italian families, the turkey is just there for tradition on Thanksgiving but the Italian dishes are still the main focus.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen at a Thanksgiving Day table?
My brother & sister getting info a fist fight!

MICHAEL GILLIGAN
Solea at W South Beach

What is the worst thing you can do to a turkey when preparing it?
Forget to really check the cavity and leave the plastic bag that the giblets and liver come in inside the turkey when you put it in the oven. The smell is awful.

If there were no more turkey's in the world, what would you serve as the main course?
A really, really big chicken. 

What is the weirdest thing you have seen at a Thanksgiving Day table?
I once had the misfortune to go to a vegetarian’s house in New York for Thanksgiving {she was cute and I interested in her}.  She served a nut and bean casserole which looked and had the texture of asphalt.  I left halfway through dinner and went to a bar for a turkey club.

STEVEN ACOSTA
Solea at W South Beach

What is the worst thing you can do to a turkey when preparing it?
Marinating the turkey with SALT a couple days in advanced. It is very easy to serve a bland turkey; therefore people have the tendency to marinate the turkey with SALT turning it into “TURKEY JERKY” instead of a moist succulent bird.

If there were no more turkey's in the world, what would you serve as the main course? 
Being a “Chico” from Miami we usually don’t get down with that oversized bird. We eat a whole pig that’s been roasting all day in a Caja China.  Turkeys don’t fly with me.  It’s all about mojo pork, arroz & frijoles negro.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen at a Thanksgiving Day table?
TOFURKY, hands down. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. This is what I get for hanging out with a bunch on Vegans on Thanksgiving. Nothing a peanut butter jelly sandwich couldn’t fix.

Chef BRIAN COLLARO
Whole Foods Market – Florida

What is the worst thing you can do to a turkey when preparing it?
Over cook and under season.  A dry, tasteless turkey is a crime!

If there were no more turkey's in the world, what would you serve as the main course?
My first instinct would be to say duck because they are a moist, delicious and a bird but honestly I would probably just make a big beef and pork lasagna with lots of cheese and my famous homemade marinara. 

What is the weirdest thing you have seen at a Thanksgiving Day table? 
Every year we start Thanksgiving dinner with stuffed artichokes.  As it was a staple in the Collaro household come Thanksgiving, I never thought this was weird until my fiancée (now wife) joined us.  She was confused and a little scared when I dropped a 3 pound Parmesan and breadcrumb stuffed artichoke in front of her.  Gladly she ate her artichoke and loved it, and me.

Speak Up!