- Four chefs share tales of what they enjoy to eat on the big day
- All of them bring influences from their homelands to the table
- Icelandic Michelin-starred chef Aggri Sverrisson says he doesn’t drink on Dec 24
- Spanish chef José Pizzaro cooks a sea bass instead of poultry
Most people will be tucking into a traditional turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Day this year.
But what do some of the UK’s top chefs eat when they’re not slaving away in their restaurant’s kitchen?
Four top chefs have revealed what they eat on the big day – and it’s quite unconventional.
The professionals revealed their unusual Christmas Day feasts in National Geographic Food magazine.
Top chefs revealed they all have wildly different Christmases. Margot Henderson, of Rochelle Canteen, reveals she has a very traditional British Christmas of a whole turkey (centre). Her husband’s mother always makes a white sauce with a blob of Parmesan (right)
One Icelandic Michelin-starred chef reveals he tucks into his country’s traditional main course of lamb with red cabbage and white sauce every year, and that no-one in the country ever drinks on Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile a chef who hails from Spain tucks into a whole sea bass instead of poultry, and a cook from the Carribbean reveals he will be eating a roast chicken stuffed with cornbread.
Here, they explain what they choose to have on December 25 in the comfort of their own homes.
Aggri Sverrisson – Christmas in Iceland
Chef Patron of Texture, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Marylebone, London Agrri Sverrisson, revealed what he eats on Christmas Day back in his native country of Iceland.
Agrri Sverrisson says he has a traditional Icelandic Christmas dinner of roast lamb (centre), red cabbage (top left), leaf bread (top right), peas (left) and a white sauce with potatoes (right)
Aggri Sverrisson is chef patron of Michelin-starred Texture
We open all the presents on the 24th, not the 25th. We love our drinking, but we don’t drink on the 24th — no way. It’s very serious, even people like who love a drink or two don’t drink on the 24th.
Most people are in the kitchen all day cooking, listening to Christmas music, eating chocolate and helping each other. A typical start would be herring, smoked salmon and gravlax to start with, then the lamb, then you always have risalamande [a cold, rice pudding dish] for dessert.
For Christmas Day we prepare smoked leg of lamb with red cabbage, white sauce, potatoes and leaf bread. This is what we’ve been eating for hundreds and hundreds of years back in Iceland, and we only ever eat it at Christmas — not at any other time. And I love it, it’s amazing. The smoky scent of the lamb is always Christmas to me. When I start making the white sauce too, the smell that comes from it — all sweet and sour — it’s delicious. We serve it with a bit of leaf bread, which is very thin, deep fried bread. It’s all very traditional. It has a very special place in my heart.
Other flavours which come out include ginger cake, we do a lot of ginger cake. Chocolate is everywhere too. Anything sweet basically. When you’re cooking the risalamande you can put cinnamon, apple compote or vanilla in it. We also do cinnamon gingerbread houses, everybody does one of those. The mothers and kids do them together in advance, and they can get very competitive and elaborate — they can be massive. They’ll decorate them with icing in all sorts of colours and with sweets too, of course.
Marlon Edwards – Carribbean Christmas
Marlon is the head chef of Cottons Rum Shack and Restaurant in Shoreditch, London.
It’s a very Carribbean affair at Marlon Edwards’ at Christmas. He makes a chicken stuffed with cornbread (centre, sweet potato wedges (left), honey-glazed jerk vegetables (top left and right), and a sorrel conserve (top)
Marlon reveals he always tucks into banana cake after Christmas dinner rather than traditional pudding or cake
In St Lucia, everyone comes together at Christmas, and I mean everybody. We all get together in one house and everyone cooks. We’re all one big family — no matter what happened the year before.
Growing up, the house was separate from the kitchen; we had this big yard and we would put up little huts with coconut palms, there’d be candles and little kerosene lamps. We had no electricity and yet the food always came out perfect — bread, pudding and cakes all cooked to perfection on the charcoal grill.
Roast chicken with cornbread stuffing, sorrel conserve and honey-glazed jerk vegetables is a family favourite, inspired by my grandmother back in St Lucia. From about the age of 12, I’d be sent out to catch the birds for dinner. My grandmother would say, ‘Marlon, I want that one, that one, and that one,’ and I’d have to chase the chickens through the community. There’d be a pot of boiling water ready to help make plucking easier.
I look forward to banana cake which my mum liked to bake so we’d have a lot of banana cake, coconut cake and something called pone, which is basically cassava bread flavoured with vanilla and raisins. And there were sweets and lollipops in just about every flavour. My grandmother would also make a hot drink with grenadine syrup, cinnamon and our famous white rum — now that was the bomb.
José Pizzaro – Christmas in Spain
José is owner and chef of Spanish restaurant José & Pizzaro near Liverpool Street station in London.
José says he always goes back to Spain for Christmas, where he makes a whole sea bass baked with anchovy and garlic potatoes
José says Christmas Eve is actually more important than December 25 in Spain
I promised my mother when I left Spain that I would always come home for Christmas. I’ve been living in London for 18 years and I’ve only ever missed one — and that was because the flights were cancelled.
We live in a small village in Extremadura and I love going for a Christmas day walk in the crisp weather — we visit the local farms and always bump into old friends. Christmas is all about relaxing, eating, drinking, listening and arguing — there’s always plenty of that, it’s tradition.
We look forward to whole sea bass baked with anchovy and garlic potatoes. This is what we always have at home — it’s all about being able to share. Christmas is the one time we’re all together and there’s nothing better than a lovely bit of fish. We have it on Christmas Eve because that’s the big night for Spanish people when it comes to Christmas — it’s more important than the day itself and it’s when everyone is together for the first time in a while. On Christmas day itself, we’ll have roast kid with a big green salad and fried potatoes.
Other foods included in a Spanish Chrismas include, Turrón [nougat]; we have big plates of it and I always make a turrón mousse — people love it. As well as jamon, we always have prawns; the big ones we just boil and the small ones we do al ajillo [with garlic]. And because it’s La Matanza [Spain’s annual pig slaughter festival], we always have fresh pork too. Black pudding, the trotters, all of that is there too. It’s just eating, eating, eating.
Margot Henderson, British Christmas
Margot is the co-owner and chef at Rochelle Canteen, in east London.
Margot reveals she enjoys turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Day, such as cranberry sauce, Brussel sprouts and a white sauce
Margot says she would never have turkey back in her native New Zealand but she has eaten the bird every year for 33 years
We have a turkey every year — my mother-in- law always makes sure of it. And because of Fergus [Henderson, Margot’s husband, the chef and founder of London’s St John restaurant], we have no choice anyway, but it’s a great bird. It’s delicious and goes well with all the trimmings.
I like the danger of cooking it too: is it done? Isn’t it? Am I drying it out? Should I brine it? I love cooking like that, even if it’s just once a year — having 10 people putting their suggestions in as to how to cook it. I just love the discussions. The rama of the turkey is great — it looks good on the table.
I am originally from New Zealand, but I’ve been doing British Christmas for 33 years now and I think the traditional meal suits Britain far better. I love all the lights and the fact it’s cold, although I’ve only seen snow once since I’ve been here. Back in New Zealand, you might have duck, crayfish, chicken, but never a turkey.
A family food tradition which always makes the big day special is on Christmas Eve, Fergus’s mum always does smoked salmon with spinach and a white sauce with a blob of Parmesan, which is delicious. On the day, we get up early and start drinking champagne as soon as possible. Once we’ve done the stockings, we get all the food in the oven and then it’s presents before dinner.
We tend to stop for a bit, and then have Stilton followed by Christmas puddings that have been waiting for us from the year before. We always get two St John Christmas puddings — we flame them up and have them with brandy butter, which is probably one of my favourite things.
Find the chefs’ recipes inside the first issue of the magazine, out now.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online