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Feed your soul
In the spirit of the season, artists from "The Nutcracker" and local executive chefs share fond memories of the holidays and the foods they love.

By JENNIFER HUNHOLZ

December 2013

Michael Engel, chef and owner, Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar

"My Grandma Engelís German Potato Torte. I asked for the recipe once, and she refused; she only gave recipes to her daughters. My aunt gave it to me, so I make it every now and again, and it reminds me where I come from. There is nothing better than food made by and shared with family and friends."
 

Luz San Miguel, leading artist, "The Nutcracker"

"Turron always reminds me of being home for the holidays. Itís an almond paste made with honey that we eat in Spain for Christmas. My family sends me packages of it over the holidays. They send so much that I still have some in my fridge in summertime."
 

Adam Siegel, executive chef, Lake Park Bistro and Bacchus

"Chicken and matzo ball soup. My grandmother made it, my mother made it and now my wife makes it. A good Jewish chicken soup is easy to come by, but a great one is not. A rich broth, light, fluffy matzo balls, the aroma, a little shredded chicken meat from the chicken that was used to make the broth, some carrots Ö delicious." 
 

Nicole Teague, leading artist, "The Nutcracker"

"Eating shortbread cookies always makes me think of my grandmother. She made her cookies with berry sugar from Canada. Itís really fine. My mom and aunt now make them every Christmas. Theyíre not quite like grandmaís, but they get better ever year."
 

Kurt Fogle, executive pastry chef, SURG Restaurant Group

"Growing up, my holiday season kicked off with a handful of oyster crackers. My grandma had perfected the recipe for ranch flavored crackers, and it wasnít a holiday until they arrived. She eventually trained me to make them. The flavor is more indicative of holiday arrival to me than the familiar scent of a freshly decorated Christmas tree."
 

Alexandre Ferreira, artist, "The Nutcracker"

"Eating grilled or barbecued sirloin reminds me of being back home in Rio de Janeiro. Every Sunday, my family used to get together to grill meat and watch the big soccer game. Itís not tied to any specific holiday, but it reminds me of being with my family."
 

Juan Urbieta, executive chef, Ristorante Bartolotta

"I can think of traditional food from Oaxaca where Iím from, such as black, green and yellow mole sauces. My wife is not from the same state but sheís traveled there before to meet my family, and she ended up loving the food herself and learning how to make some of the dishes. Now she makes them for me here!"
 

Davit Hovhannisyan, leading artist, "The Nutcracker"

"A special broth made from cowsí feet, called khash. Whenever we had a special occasion, it was a family tradition that very early the following morning we would all sit at the very long table and eat this dish. This was one of my favorite dishes, served with salt, freshly pressed garlic and a handful of our traditional bread, lavash." 
 

Daniel Jacobs, executive chef, Wolf Peach

"Growing up, one of the few things my parents made from scratch was chopped liver. My brother and I were the only 6- and 7-year-olds on the block excited about eating chicken livers. We would make this dish every year for our family holiday party at my cousinís house. Iíve taken over and kept the tradition, making the same recipe with a few of my own touches."
 

Andrew Miller, executive chef, HoM Woodfired Grill

"My grandmaís cookies. There are literally dozens of varieties; perhaps the biggest standout is her gooey butter cookies. I think weíve gotten pretty close to replicating the recipe, but Iíll always cherish diving into a plateful of the originals by the fire on Christmas Eve."


This story ran in the December issue of: