by Maggie Shea, Chef Magazine

This article is the online exclusive Bottom Line Solutions column for the November/December issue of Chef Magazine.

Recession or not, the holiday season is quickly approaching, and restaurants nationwide are working hard to entice customers this year with creative fall and winter promotions. From home-style holiday dinners prepared for takeout and Peruvian and French twists on Thanksgiving dinner to a prix fixe meal celebrating the roasted chestnut, a vegetarian's Tofurkey-less holiday meal and "The 12 Days of Mole," operators offer ways to celebrate the season and its food and drink. To get in the holiday spirit--and maybe get an idea or two for your restaurant, while your at it--read on.

And if you need still a little inspiration, the American Culinary Federation (ACF) has you covered with a few no-fail Thanksgiving Day recipes (see below).

Thanksgiving to go
Back by popular demand, chef Zov Karamardian will offer Thanksgiving and Winter Holiday Takeout Dinners at Zov's Bistro and Bakery in Tustin, Calif., for customers who want to entertain friends and family without spending hours in the kitchen. Zov's Thanksgiving Takeout Dinner serves 12 to 15 people and is made up of 11 items, including roasted free-range turkey, wild mushroom and jasmine rice stuffing with black currants and pine nuts, sage gravy, maple-glazed roasted yams, Parmesan mashed potatoes, cranberry citrus relish and choice of pie.

Chef Zov prepares holiday takeout.

The Winter Holiday Takeout Dinner serves 10 to 12 and includes an entrée selection along with six other items, including glazed baby carrots, creamed corn, herbed creamy mashed potatoes with Gruyére cheese and dinner rolls. For more information, visit

Two cultures, one menu
Andina Restaurant, in Portland, Ore., is offering its first-ever prix fixe menu this Thanksgiving, featuring both Thanksgiving favorites and specials that celebrate South and North American cuisine. On Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26), chef Doris Rodriguez de Platt will offer guests a selection of tapas meant for sharing, as well as a main entrée and dessert.

Chef Doris Rodriguez de Platt visits with guests at Andina.

Among the appetizers are Andean quinoa salad with queso fresco, avocado and olives; cheese-stuffed yucca with huancaína sauce; and marinated beef heart kebobs with peanut-huacatay sauce. The entrée special will be oven-roasted heritage turkey with quince-huacatay chutney. The desserts are yam-aji amarillo crème brûlée topped with white chocolate biscotti and a pumpkin chiffon tart served with caramel sauce and candied walnuts. The one-day Thanksgiving menu is available from 1 to 9:30 p.m. with the courtyard and bar open to 11 p.m. For more information, visit

A French take on Thanksgiving
For families seeking an escape from plain old roasted turkey and stuffing, the chefs at Bastille, Alexandria, Va., planned a French-style Thanksgiving Day meal. The three-course, prix fixe menu from husband and wife owners Christophe Poteaux and Michelle Garbee-Poteaux (pictured, left) includes items such as Jerusalem artichoke veloutè with black truffle crème fraîche, country pâté and house condiments, breast of Guinea hen poached in duck fat with cranberry chutney, chestnut-sweet potato gratin and homemade pumpkin cheesecake. The special meal will be available on Nov. 26 from 5 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit

An ode to the chestnut
For the entire month of November, 1789 Restaurant's executive chef Dan Giusti (pictured, right) will be celebrating American chestnuts and their versatility, offering a seasonal prix fixe, three-course menu where each dish features chestnuts. The Washington, D.C., restaurant will procure chestnuts from Toigo Orchards of Shippensburg, Pa., and incorporate them into dishes including chestnut soup with crispy duck confit, maple-glazed chestnuts and foie gras, and roast poussin with chestnut polenta. For dessert, pastry chef Travis Olson is preparing chestnut and pear sundae with warm Comice pear, chestnut honey, roasted chestnut ice cream and candied chestnuts. Each guest will be given a bag of roasted chestnuts as a complimentary take-away. For patrons who can't get enough chestnuts, chefs Giusti and Olson will host a cooking class on Nov. 21 to demonstrate how to prepare the three-course chestnut menu. For more information, visit

Forget the Tofurkey
Seattle vegetarian restaurant Cafe Flora will offer its annual Thanksgiving prix fixe, four-course dinner with farm-fresh vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu items. The local, seasonal dinner is a far cry from Tofurkey and bread stuffing with items such as crispy chanterelles and truffled cauliflower with porcini red wine sauce and toasted hazelnuts; black petite lentil and aged goat cheese chausson with caramelized onions, spinach, herbs and oven-roasted root vegetables with creamy leek sauce and pear chutney; and pumpkin pie with roasted pumpkin and sweet potato filling with ginger-clove-infused cream. There is even a four-course kids menu, with items such as deep-fried mushrooms with creamy herb dipping sauce, harvest timbale and gingerbread and cream sandwich cookies. The event takes place Nov. 26, from 1:30 p.m. until the final seating time at 6:45 p.m. Visit for more information.

The 12 days of mole
Arnaldo Richards, chef/owner of Pico's Mex Mex Restaurant in Houston, will be celebrating the 12 days of Christmas with a festival of moles available at Pico's from Dec. 1 through Jan. 6, which is Three Kings Day in Mexican tradition. Richards will use his original recipes as well as those that have been handed down through his family for generations, many that have up to 27 different ingredients and take several hours to prepare. Moles that will be served during the festival include: Negro, Poblano, Almendrado, Rojo, Verde Coloradito, Mole de Olla, Verde, Amarillo, De Frijol Negro and Manchamanteles. Different moles will be available on different days during the festival. For more information, visit

For creative additions to your own fall or winter menu, here are a few holiday recipes, courtesy of ACF Cooking with America's Championship Team.

Butternut Squash 'Consommé' with Butternut Squash Flan
Wayne Sieve, member of 2008 ACF Culinary Youth Team USA, St. Louis

Yield: 4 servings

4 butternut squash, peeled, halved and seeds scraped out
4 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. maple syrup
2 large egg yolks
1/2 c. heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 t. curry powder
2 slices smoked bacon, finely diced
1 zucchini
3 c. vegetable stock (reserved from cooking squash)
1 carrot
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Micro greens, to garnish

Method (1) Chop squash; place in large saucepan with stock and maple syrup. Simmer until squash is tender. Strain mixture; reserving squash and stock separately. (2) Pass squash through a food mill or ricer. Place purée in strainer set over a bowl; let sit until all liquid has drained out of squash. Reserve liquid and solids separately. (3) Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 1/2 c. squash solids and 3/4 c. of reserved vegetable stock in a blender; process until smooth. Pour into a bowl; add yolks and cream. Whisk until incorporated; season with salt and pepper. Add in another 1/3 c. of squash solids and curry powder. (4) Spray 4 small ramekins with nonstick spray; divide mixture between ramekins. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. (5) Place bacon in small pan; cook until fat is rendered. Remove bacon from pan; drain on paper towels. (6) Cut zucchini into desired shape; cook in vegetable stock until tender; remove with slotted spoon; add to liquid that drained out of squash (the consommé). Cut carrot into desired shape; cook in vegetable stock until tender; remove with slotted spoon; add to consommé. (7) Unmold warm flan into each of 4 bowls. Spoon hot consommé and vegetables around each; top flans with bacon and micro greens.

Madeleine's Fried Turkey and Vegetable Hash with Parsnip-Potato Purée and Sweet Potato Sauce
Chris Desens, CEC, AAC, executive chef, The Racquet Club Ladue, St. Louis, Mo., member of 2008 AAC Culinary Regional Team USA

Yield: 4 servings

8 2-oz. portions turkey tenderloin, slightly pounded
4 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. smoked paprika
1 t. curry powder
1 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 c. Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
1/4 c. parsnip, peeled and diced
1/4 c. turnip, peeled and diced
1/4 c. celery root, peeled and diced
1/4 c. rutabaga, peeled and diced
1/4 c. yellow onion, diced
1/4 c. red bell pepper, diced
1/4 c. celery, diced
Olive oil
Unsalted butter
Fresh herbs of choice
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method (1) Wrap each piece of turkey in a half a slice of prosciutto. (2) On a plate, combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika, curry powder and salt. In a bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs. Measure out 2/3 c. of the flour mixed with spices, and whisk it into the buttermilk mixture just until smooth. (3) Dredge each piece of turkey in some of the remaining 1/3 c. seasoned flour, dip each in the batter, then dredge again in the flour. (4) Deep-fry the turkey pieces in 350°F oil until golden brown and cooked through. (5) Drain well. (6) Sauté the potato, parsnip, turnip, celery root, rutabega, onion, pepper and celery in olive oil until cooked through and the flavors combine. (7) Stir in the butter, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. (8) Place 2 pieces of turkey on each plate, serve with the vegetable hash, Parsnip-Potato Purée (recipe follows) and garnish each plate as desired. Place a line of Sweet Potato Sauce (recipe follows) on the side.

Parsnip-Potato Purée

1 c. Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves
1 cup parsnip, peeled and diced
3/4 c. heavy cream
Salt and ground white pepper, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
Method (1) Cook potato and garlic in salted water until soft; drain and purée in food mill. (2) Cook parsnip in cream until softened; purée, using as much of the cream as needed. (3) Fold in potatoes; season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg.

Sweet Potato Sauce

1/4 c. yellow onion, diced
1/4 c. celery, diced
1/4 c. carrot, diced
Olive oil
1/2 c. sweet potato, peeled, roasted and mashed
2 t. fresh ginger, minced and peeled
1/2 t. red curry paste
2/3 c. coconut milk
2 T. lime juice
2/3 c. chicken stock
Unsalted butter
Salt and ground white pepper, to taste

Method (1) Sweat the onion, celery and carrot in olive oil until soft. Add the sweet potato, ginger, curry paste, coconut milk, lime juice and stock; cook until the flavors meld. (2) Purée the sauce and finish with butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Ginger Ice Cream and Brandied Fruit Compote
Jennifer Kopp, CEPC, pastry chef, Chevy Chase Club, Chevy Chase, Md., member of 2008 ACF Culinary Regional Team USA

Yield: 4 servings

1 1/2 large eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. canned pumpkin purée
1/2 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. vanilla extract
6 T. all-purpose flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking powder
Chocolate curves, for garnish (optional)
Mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Method (1) Preheat oven to 375°F. In bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until fluffy and tripled in volume. Beat in pumpkin, lemon juice and vanilla. Sift together flour, cinnamon and baking powder; stir them into pumpkin mixture. (2) Scoop batter into individual flexible silicone molds; bake until firm and springy, about 15 minutes. Cool cakes completely, then remove them from molds. (3) To serve, spoon some warm Brandied Fruit Compote (recipe follows) into bottom of each serving bowl. Place cakes on top. (4) Make quenelles or scoops of Ginger Ice Cream (recipe follows). Place one quenelle inside each Tuile Cylinder (recipe follows); place them on top of cakes. (5) Garnish with chocolate curves and mint.

Brandied Fruit Compote

1/2 c. unsweetened apple juice
1/4 c. dried apricots, diced
1/4 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. golden raisins
1/4 c. dark raisins
2 T. brandy

Method (1) In medium saucepan, bring apple juice to a boil. Add apricots, cherries, light and dark raisins; simmer until fruits are soft. (2) Remove from heat, pour mixture into a bowl; stir in brandy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let compote steep until ready to serve.

Ginger Ice Cream

1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
2 large egg yolks
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 c. candied ginger pieces, diced

Method (1) In saucepan, bring cream, milk and half of the sugar to a boil. In medium bowl, whisk yolks with remaining sugar until smooth. Whisk in ground ginger. (2) Whisking constantly, slowly whisk hot cream mixture into egg yolks. Pour mixture back into saucepan; cook, stirring, until slightly thickened. Pour into bowl; refrigerate until chilled. (3) Freeze chilled mixture in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer ice cream to plastic container; stir in candied ginger pieces. Freeze until ready to serve.

Tuile Cylinders

1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. egg whites, warmed slightly
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour

Method (1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine butter and sugar. Slowly beat in egg whites and vanilla. Add flour; blend until smooth. (2) Spread batter onto baking sheet lined with a Silpat; make rectangles about 5 1/2" by 2" (use a template if you like). (3) Bake until batter is white and no longer shiny, about 2 minutes. Cool completely. (4) When cooled, return baking sheet to oven; bake until tuiles are golden, about 2 minutes. (5) While still hot, peel them from mat; wrap them around a small rolling pin or large dowel to form cylinders, pressing firmly at seams. Let cool.
The American Culinary Federation (ACF) has announced the locations for its 2010 regional and national event series. ACF events offer chefs, culinary students and foodservice representatives a chance to advance their professional development and enhance their culinary skills through networking, cooking competitions, awards, business seminars, cooking demonstrations and a national trade show. Next year's events and their locations are:
  • ACF Western Regional Conference, Feb. 6 to 8, Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, Albuquerque, N.M., hosted by ACF Rio Grande Valley Chapter;
  • ACF Northeast Regional Conference, March 13 to 15, Hershey Lodge, Hershey, Pa., hosted by ACF Harrisburg Chapter;
  • ACF Central Regional Conference, March 26 to 28, Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, Indianapolis, Ind., hosted by ACF Greater Indianapolis Chapter;
  • ACF Southeast Regional Conference, April 24 to 26, Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, Birmingham, Ala., hosted by ACF Birmingham Alabama Chapter; and
  • ACF 2010 National Convention, Aug. 2 to 5, Anaheim Marriott, Anaheim, Calif.
For more information on the events, visit