For the past week or so, we've been featuring the holiday food traditions of L.A. chefs. Today, we talk to Animal and Son of a Gun chef Jon Shook (who is expecting a wee babe in the spring — mazel tov) about latkes, brisket, ham and casserole.

“I grew up in a Jewish household, so we always had potato latkes, my mom would always make brisket, you know with red wine sauce and ketchup? Which is delicious. It's funny because now we have a catering company and I use that same latke recipe a lot, as a delivery system for steak with Parmesan truffle fondue or whatever. When I was a kid we ate them with Mott's apple sauce, but now we make our own apple sauce with apples from the farmers market.

“Now that I'm not home as much … it sounds super random, but when I met Vinny [Dotolo, Shook's business partner and co-chef] when we were like 18 we started always eating a Honey Baked Ham and sweet Hawaiian rolls. Vinny grew up eating that with his grandpa, and we've been eating it ever since around the holidays. It makes me think of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“I love apple cider as well. I've never been a huge lover of eggnog.

“Another thing I make a lot of is green bean casserole. You make it and you have to make the cream sauce taste as much like Campell's cream of mushroom soup as possible, even if you're totally making it from scratch. If you want people to enjoy it, you have to understand that people want to taste what they grew up with. So much of those kind of dishes are about nostalgia.”

Apple Sauce

From: Animal's Jon Shook

Makes: A little over a quart of apple sauce. Jon likes to use it as an accompaniment for latkes, as it works with an 8-person portion of latkes.

2 pounds apples, cored and diced

1.5 cups sugar

3 cups water

1. Place ingredients in sauce pan. Cover.

2. Slow cook to remove liquid until mixture is syrupy and the apples are soft.

3. Puree while hot; Strain through chinois. Allow to cool and serve.

See also:

Chefs Cook At Home, The Holiday Edition: Le Ka's Remi Lauvand + A Recipe for Shigoku Oysters

Chefs Cook At Home, The Holiday Edition: Sotto's Steve Samson + A Recipe For Tortellini

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