11 Great L.A. Chefs Tell Us Their Holiday Food Traditions

For the past couple of weeks, we've been talking to L.A. chefs about their holday food traditions. Here's a roundup of all of those great chefs and what they do for the holidays, food-wise, plus a couple of extras thrown in for good measure.

Michael Cimarusti, the chef at Providence, does it up right. A roast pig the week of thanksgiving, a rib roast for Christmas, and a tamale party the week of Christmas. "We have hosted a tamale party for the last couple years, the week of Christmas. We invite over a bunch of people, make masa and a couple hundred tamales. Everyone takes home an armful of tamales for their efforts."

Andrew Kirschner, chef at Tar & Roses, told us about his Hanukkah feast. "This year, I made some killer horseradish and leek latkas with apple chuntney, a beautiful brisket with chanterelle mushrooms, and some of my grandmother noodle kugel for dessert" He also shared a recipe for apple chutney.

Remi Lauvand, chef at the new restaurant Le Ka downtown, hangs out with friends and eats lots of oysters. Check out his recipe for Shigoku oysters here.

The Hungry Cat's David Lentz tells us about his Christmas Eve tradition of eating at Spago, as well as the feast he cooks at home the next day. "For Christmas eve, Suzanne and I have had a great tradition of going for lunch at Spago. I think we've been doing it for the last 10 years. Normally we go around 1 p.m., it's very festive on the patio (although I haven't been since remodel). Great people watching... After lunch we normally do a little shopping for last minute gifts...a champagne filled lunch always lessons the sticker shock of prices in Beverly Hills."

Walter Manzke, of soon-to-open Republique, lets his mom do the cooking. "If I am not working in a restaurant somewhere my mom normally does the cooking; Roast goose, braised red cabbage, potato pancakes cooked in the rendered goose fat."

The Border Grill's Mary Sue Milliken does a lot of baking around the holidays. "I also MUST make my mom's best cookies: Shokoladen Pletchen (bitter chocolate and almonds ground then folded into meringue)." Read about her other traditions here.

Sotto's Zach Pollack was kind enough to pass on his recipe for brisket, while talking about his earliest food memories. "Growing up a reformed Jew in West Los Angeles, I developed a relationship with brisket around the same time that I developed a relationship with food, which is to say, when I was weaned from the jarred purees that sustain babies and began to eat what is today known simply as: food. My earliest memories of food are memories of brisket."

Sotto's Steve Samson told us about his tradition of making tortellini. ""My mom is from Bologna so practically every special occasion meal, especially Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, is centered around tortellini. It's become a family tradition for everyone to help nonna as she rolls out, fills and forms the little stuffed pastas." Read the rest of his story, and get the recipe for tortellini.

Animal's Jon Shook took us from brisket to Honey Baked Ham, and told us about his green bean casserole. He also shared a simple recipe for apple sauce.

Ink's Michael Voltaggio takes the day off. "I don't cook on holidays. Only time of year I get to eat other people's cooking! My stepfather Bob Mangine makes like a 25lb lasagna that is ridiculously good. My mom Sharon Mangine has made these sausage ball things for Christmas ever since I was a kid. It's one of my most craved food memories."

If Corina Weibel's description of her holiday throwdown doesn't make you want to hang out with her, then you're probably dead inside. The Canele chef throws quite a party. A roast pig, a motley gang, and paella. ""Sometimes we just build a big fire outside and make paella over the embers all night long. Drink is taken, but that's another story. If we are really lucky Justine will turn up and dance flamenco by the fire. olé! it's a party ..."


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