Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli TIPS:
Be Thankful for Self-Editing

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter – New York, NY
Adapted by

  • The most important tip is to be “set up” for service like no other day of the year. Families book their reservations and they mean serious culinary business!

  • When making your thanksgiving menu, write it with all the bells and whistles (side dishes, sauces, turkey, short ribs, fish, etc) and then take a marker to it and cut the menu in half. A chef’s eyes can be bigger than his/her stomach. It’s better to make fewer menu items really well than to spread yourself too thin with a large menu and not execute a good service.

  • Remember that you’re making classical dishes that hold great sentimental value to your guests and are important to American culinary history. Diners want the mashed potatoes to be smooth “like mom’s were” and the pecan pie “like grandmother’s”.

  • When running the kitchen on Thanksgiving, it’s your job to be a cheerleader. Staff morale can be low because they’re working while they’re families are home enjoying the festivities. Make your staff enjoy their day at work as much as possible.

  • Roast double the amount of turkey you think you need. You can always serve the leftovers in different forms for staff meal during the following week.

  • I do not brine my turkey, but prefer to cook the “fancy” turkeys like Heritage because they taste “clean.” (Though I also love a nice, fatty turkey for all of those good drippings.)

  • I wrap the breast of my turkey in bacon slices and top it with a butter-soaked cheesecloth. I roast the bird at a high temperature to start then I baste it periodically. I stuff it with my father’s family recipe of stuffing made with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese (two ingredients he jokingly insists were “staples on the Mayflower…”). The cheese melts and moistens the whole stuffing.

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