12 chefs of Christmas
"I grew up in a large family and we would attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and in the morning, open presents and drink eggnog made by my sister and mother," recounted Michele Williams, director, Moveable Feast Caterers. Williams always looked forward to the Christmas spread prepared by her aunt and culinary mentor, Tryphene 'Tiny' Goldson. When asked if she could invite three people in all of history for Christmas dinner, who they would be, Williams responded, "I love history and my guest list would include phenomenal leaders: Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, and Mother Teresa."
Similarly, Jacqui Tyson, director, Yardstyle to Gourmet, would host Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Nelson Mandela, and Chef Paul Bocuse. Christmas for Tyson is a celebration of life, and she reserves some time to bond with family members and share good food. "On Christmas morning, I really like eggs Benedict with ham and an English muffin, and for dinner, I must have stuffed roasted chicken - the Best Dressed Chicken, of course. There is no Christmas for me without it!"
Christmas for Celeste Gordon, owner, Whip It Up Catering, always centres around family and big spreads. She noted, "Growing up, my family would come together to make Christmas puddings and it was always a group effort with my aunts and grandmother, and it was all done by hand." Nothing much has changed as Gordon added, "My family is into food and everyone can hold their own in the kitchen, so Christmas is all about putting a spin on traditional Christmas meals."
Chef Theo Smith, catering executive, Great House Caterers, noted, "When I was 10 years old, my mother taught me how to make pot roast and potato salad. That was a special Christmas memory for me because my mother hates the kitchen, but she took the time to impart her knowledge." Due to his hectic schedule, Smith postpones his Christmas celebrations to New Year's Day, when he joins his family to indulge in holiday favourites inclusive of roasted ham with a sorrel, mango jerk or pineapple cherry glaze, macaroni and cheese, and potato salad.
The best holiday memory for Chef Ravi Anne, group executive chef, Jewel Resorts, is as a child back in India when he would help his father to bake a special Christmas fruitcake. Now as a senior chef, he spends the holidays at work and he added, "We have many guests here, and I set up a nice buffet for them and try to make their holiday extra special." For Chef Anne, sorrel is a quintessential Christmas ingredient and his favourite dish is roasted ham served with sorrel chutney. He advises that while roasting this Christmas, home cooks should always have sufficient fat content in their pan to maintain moisture.
Collin Brown, resident chef, Bellefield Great House and Gardens has travelled extensively and Christmas for him is about reconnecting with family and friends worldwide. "My favourite holiday menu includes, for starters, Cream of Kidney Bean Soup with Crusted Stilton and Cilantro Oil, followed by Best Dressed Chicken Roulade with Dom Perignon Champagne and Annatto Cream. For dessert, it would be Blue Mountain Coffee Bread Pudding with a Scotch Bonnet Scented Honey Caramel Sauce and Coconut and Fennel Rice Pudding with Candied Tropical Fruits."