Chefs Fail at Thanksgiving, Too

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Say no to Turducken. Photo: Mrflip's flickr

As we begin pep talks to our stomach in anticipation of the Thanksgiving deluge, we asked local chefs about memorable mishaps and their plans for this year. Whether you’re dining out, ordering in, or attempting the big meal yourself, take a moment to appreciate their disasters. Got a holiday horror story? Share yours in the comments.

Julian Medina, chef-partner, Toloache and Yerba Buena
Never again: “I tried to order a Turducken from the Midwest, and two days before Thanksgiving, it was not at home. We called and complained, and they sent us one the next day. They come frozen, so I tried to defrost it very fast; I baked it and roasted it, and they take the bone out, so it was so dry. It was so inedible that we had one slice of turkey out of the whole thing. The sides and stuff were ready, so I ordered turkey and gravy from a diner. We wanted to try something different. Unfortunately, the difference was that it was a major disaster.”

This year: “I’m going to do a roulade. I’m going to bone it and stuff it with dried figs, spinach, and some chicken-and-cranberry sausage. My family helps a little bit, but I’m in charge of the turkey.”

Emma Hearst, chef-owner, Sorella
Never again: “I usually celebrate Thanksgiving out in central/southern California at my family’s ranch. I have the best memories of learning how to cook on Thanksgiving, but when I was about 6 or 7, I remember we caught this wild turkey. The thing was at least 30 pounds, and it didn’t fit in our oven, so I have memories of my father and his brother sawing the legs off in the back of the ranch. Because of its size, it was pretty gamey.”

This year: “Sorella opened for friends and family the night before Thanksgiving last year, so it was the first Thanksgiving in California that I missed. This year, I’m leaving Wednesday, going to my ranch, and seeing my family I haven’t seen in two years, so I’m very excited about that.”

Caroline Fidanza, chef-owner, Saltie
Never again: “I never make Thanksgiving. It’s a bland meal, in my book.”

This year: “I always go home, and my mother makes everything before I arrive. You don’t cook when you have a mom to do it. Everything goes so smoothly; she’s the master of Thanksgiving. She should teach a class.”

Danny Amend, chef, Franny’s

Never again: “I was 8 or 9, and I had started to really get into cooking, watching Jacques Pépin and stuff like that. I asked my mom for a Henckels chef knife, and she gave me the new knife early because we were going to make Thanksgiving dinner. I was going to make the stuffing, and I cut off the tip of my pinky finger. I still have that little scar. It was kind of the beginning of my cooking career. I definitely remember it fondly. I’ve cut myself thousands of times, so that was just the first one.”

This year: “I grew up in Northern California, and this year I’m going home for the first time in six years. My parents always preferred me cooking, anyways.”

Scott Bryan, chef, Apiary
Never again: “One time, I was cooking for 25 people at a friend’s house in Danbury. I didn’t have enough room for the produce, so I put it in on the porch, and it all froze.”

This year: “We’re closed at the restaurant, so I’ll go to someone’s house.”

Amanda Cohen, chef-owner, Dirt Candy

Never again: “I’m actually Canadian, so this whole thing is a little new to me. The first one I had, I was 21, and I was making it with my husband. His friend was visiting from South Carolina, and we were making a ton of food, trying to be as traditional as possible — and this was before I thought I was going to be a chef, so it was a lot to handle. It took us three days. His friend stopped in and said he’d come back, and never showed. We sat across the table, trying to eat as much as possible. That’s the last real Thanksgiving I ever cooked. I’ve pretty much tried to stay away from it since then.”

This year: “I’m not sure. We only have one day off. I’m still hoping to get invited somewhere. Or having it at home with someone who will definitely show up, give an RSVP in writing.”

Related:
The Thanksgiving Planner - [NYM]