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December 19, 2018

Five local chefs share what they eat during the holidays

We asked, 'What's a tradition in your family?'

Holiday Food & Drink
cooking/baking Photo by Pexels

Think about the holidays with your family and the meals you share together. There's probably a dish that stands out as something you always have at the table this time of year.

In my family, we always have a tin of Cadbury Roses to eat after Christmas dinner. If the brightly-wrapped, British chocolates were missing, it just wouldn't feel right. 

Our local chefs also have family traditions, and shared them this year with PhillyVoice – one even shared a recipe.

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Jenn Grosskruger

Executive chef of Ocean Prime

Chef Jenn Grosskruger of Ocean PrimeCourtesy of/PUNCH MEDIA

Chef Jenn Grosskruger of Ocean Prime.

It’s funny, our family tradition is actually homemade pizza. 

When my brother and I were little, we were super picky eaters. One year my mom went all out on a traditional German Christmas dinner, and all we wanted was pizza! 

Since then we’ve had pizza every year on Christmas Eve, my dad always makes the dough from scratch, then we all take turns making our own personalized pies. It's fun to have everyone in the kitchen together and there's no stress of big meal prep.

Jose Garces

Award-winning Iron Chef

Jose GarcesCourtesy of/Cashman & Associates

Chef Jose Garces.

In my family, Christmas is all about being together, reflecting over the past year while also sharing our wishes for the approaching new year. 

A big part of being together over the holidays, of course, is food, and Christmas means slow-roasted pork. The traditional Ecuadorian Christmas meal stars hornado de chancho, or slow-roasted pork leg. 

When I was growing up, my mom served it alongside black beans and roasted hominy salad. The night is capped off with canelazo, a hot cinnamon drink that can be made with or without aguardiente (a distilled spirit made from sugarcane).

Justin Swain

Executive chef of Rex 1516

Chef Justin Swain of Rex 1516Courtesy of/PUNCH MEDIA

Chef Justin Swain of Rex 1516.

No real yearly traditions in my family. 

I do however make sure to give everyone pimento cheese as a gift each year, and they might murder me if I showed up without it. They even pester me for it mid-year for birthdays and such.

Swain's Pimento Cheese Recipe (yields 3 quarts)

1 pound of cheddar
1/2 cup of mayo
6 ounces of pickled hot cherry peppers, de-seeded and minced fine
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Pinch of dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon Crystal Hot Sauce (or any preferred hot sauce)

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with rubber spatula until thoroughly combined.

Kristopher Neff

Executive chef of Buddakan Atlantic City

Chef Kris Neff form Buddakan Atlantic City.Courtesy of/Cashman & Associates

Chef Kris Neff form Buddakan Atlantic City.

A tradition of mine on Christmas Day is spending it at my house with my family, and starting off with a nice hearty breakfast featuring spiced monkey bread, lox, bagels and cannoli.

JC Piña

Executive chef of Café Ynez

Carroll - Cafe YnezThom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Cafe Ynez, 2025 Washington Ave.

In Mexico, we have a diversity of traditional dishes, but I would say that pozole rojo is the most common. 

Also known as Mexican pork and hominy stew, pozole rojo, is a traditional Mexican dish eaten on Christmas Eve. I make this dish every Christmas and it reminds me of home.

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