Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2017

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A (foodie) feast for Thanksgiving: Las Vegas chefs share recipes, traditions


Rafael Lizarraga

Megan Romano’s apple-cranberry pie.

For the third consecutive year, celebrity and VIP chefs in Las Vegas have shared their favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal, a Thanksgiving tradition, what they do with leftovers, what they’re especially thankful for this year and a favorite holiday recipe.

Our thanks to the following for their fabulous contributions:

Jon Amorin, Social House (Crystals in CityCenter)

Tim Duerson, La Cave Wine and Hideaway (Wynn)

Joseph Elevado, Andrea’s (Encore)

Roy Ellamar, Sensi (Bellagio)

K.C. Fazel, Tender Steakhouse (Luxor)

Tony Gemignani, Pizza Rock (Downtown)

Todd Harrington, Central Michel Richard (Caesars Palace)

John Hilton, Three Square food bank

Brian Howard, Comme Ca (Cosmopolitan)

George Jacquez, Aliante

Nicolas Mazier, Nobu (Caesars Palace)

Saul Ortiz, Tacos & Tequila (Luxor)

Joe Panino, Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse (D Las Vegas)

Megan Romano, Chocolate & Spice Bakery (West Sahara)

Tom Ryan, Smashburger (founder)

Angelo Sosa, Poppy Den, Tivoli Village)

Joe Zanelli, Honey Salt (Summerlin)

Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    • The bar at Social House in Crystals at CityCenter.

      JON AMORIN (Social House, Crystals, CityCenter)

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “Growing up in a Filipino/Puerto Rican household, our Thanksgiving meal didn’t always consist of your typical holiday items like turkey, stuffing, cranberry and mashed potatoes. Don’t get me wrong; we had all the classic holiday dishes on our table, but the star of the show was never the turkey or the stuffing or the mashed potatoes. The star was the pig — braised, sauteed or fried. Everyone would bring a pork dish. The pinnacle of pork dishes would be my grandmother’s Pork pasteles, a slow-braised pork shoulder cut into bite-sized pieces and stuffed inside a mixture of mashed bananas, black olives and red chilies and then individually wrapped in banana leaves and tied. She would then steam them for eight hours until they were ready to eat. I’ve eaten many pork pasteles in my day, but nothing comes close to my grandmother’s. Opening one is like unwrapping an early Christmas present.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “Watching football. This would be the one time of the year everyone in our family would watch football together. From the first game in the morning to the last game at night, football would be playing on the television all day. Even the women would get into it during Thanksgiving, which is not always the case in my household — not even for the Super Bowl!”

      What do you do with leftovers? “I like to make turkey congee, which is Chinese rice porridge with ginger, garlic, green onions and shredded leftover turkey. It’s a dish my grandfather showed me how to make and one I make every year even if I don’t have leftovers. A great way to beat the winter cold.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I’m thankful for my family and friends. Becoming an executive chef is never an easy thing, and without the support of my family and friends, I believe I wouldn’t be where I am today living out my dream cooking in one of the best restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip. Thank you all so much.”


      Served with Japanese pumpkin mash and macadamia nut haricot vert, it’s Social House’s Thanksgiving special.

      Braised pork belly

      5 pounds Niman pork belly

      1 1/2 cup sake

      1/2 cup mirin

      3 tbl sugar

      1/2 cup light soy

      Juice of one orange

      Season pork belly with salt and pepper and sear both sides in a deep heavy sauce pan.

      Cover pork belly with water and braise in an oven for 8 hours at 200 degrees.

      Carefully remove the pork from the liquid and let cool overnight in refrigerator.

      Portion pork into 2-inch squares and set aside.

      Add sake, mirin, sugar, soy and orange juice into a saucepan and reduce by half.

      Add portioned pork belly to sauce and continue to reduce sauce until you achieve a syrup-like consistency, glazing pork every couple of minutes.

      Serve glazed pork belly on top of Japanese pumpkin mash and macadamia nut haricot vert and finish with fresh micro greens. Enjoy!

      This specialty dish will be offered Thanksgiving Day for dinner only.

    • La Cave Wine and Food Hideaway at Wynn Las Vegas.

      TIM DUERSON (La Cave Wine and Food Hideaway, Wynn)

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “I come from a small family, so we did not have a lot of traditions. But my most favorite thing on Thanksgiving we had as a family is sweet potatoes seasoned with maple syrup, butter salt and pepper and Gratian with smashed cornflakes and granola combo. The texture was awesome, and the sweetness of the granola is my favorite.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “The evening’s leftovers are followed with a turkey sandwich with mayonnaise and cranberry sauce mixed together with warm stuffing. I also add Ruffles sour cream and chive potato chips in the sandwich and lightly pressed so that the chips don’t fall out. I also enjoy sitting down to “Sports Center.” ”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I am most thankful for my family and their health.”


      Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place 4 sweet potatoes all the same size and rub with olive oil. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Roast for 50 to 65 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Let the potatoes cool for 15 to 20 minutes. In a large plastic Ziploc bag, place 2 cups of granola with 2 cups of corn flakes and roll with a rolling pin until desired texture. In a separate bowl, melt 1 lb. of butter, incorporate the 2 cereals with butter, mix well and set aside. After the sweet potatoes have cooled, gently remove skin and add 1 lb. unsalted butter, 1/2 cup heavy creamy into a large bowl and mix until smooth. Add salt and white pepper to taste and finish with maple syrup. Place sweet potatoes mixture into medium-size, rectangle, oven-proof cookware. Add cereal and butter topping to the potatoes and let cook for 20 to 30 minutes, then serve.

    • Joseph Elevado.

      JOSEPH ELEVADO (Andrea’s, Encore)

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the stuffing or dressing. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved a good stuffing. I guess because being raised in a Filipino household, we really only had stuffing during Thanksgiving. I would always look forward to spending Thanksgiving at my brother in-law’s parents’ house. His mother made a great traditional Thanksgiving spread.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “My family always makes a tradition of playing board games. From Pictionary to Balderdash to Trivial Pursuit, we love board games. Cards, too.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “My mother always used to make this great spinoff on a traditional Filipino dish called paksiw na lechon. It’s basically leftover turkey that is stewed with a traditional Filipino sauce for roast pig that’s made with breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, vinegar and chicken liver. It might sound a bit strange to non-Filipinos, but it always reminds me of home.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I am especially thankful for the health and safety of my family, a great job and being able to come home to a loving family.”


      Sweet bread base

      8 pcs Hawaiian sweet rolls

      1 pint milk

      1 cup duck fat

      1/8 cup sliced garlic

      Place all ingredients in a sauce pot and bring to a gentle simmer and blend in a food processor.


      32 Hawaiian rolls cubed

      1/2 bunch parsley finely chopped

      1/2 cup sliced scallions

      3 tbs. olive oil

      1/2 white onion small diced

      4 stalks of celery small diced

      1 cup chicken broth

      1 tbs. champagne vinegar

      1 roasted Peking duck (from local Chinese market) de-boned and shredded

      1 sweet bread base

      Preheat oven at 325.

      Mix the bread, 2 tbs. of olive oil, parsley and scallions together and lightly toast in oven until bread is golden brown.

      While bread is in the oven, light saute onion and celery with remaining oil for about 5 minutes.

      Combine toasted bread mix, pulled duck meat, sauteed vegetables, sweet bread base, chicken broth and vinegar in a casserole dish with a lid. Make sure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

      Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until chicken stock is absorbed into the dressing.

    • Roy Ellamar of Sensi at Bellagio.

      ROY ELLAMAR (Sensei, Bellagio)

      Roy Ellamar of Sensi at Bellagio.

      Roy Ellamar of Sensi at Bellagio.

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “It’s really difficult for me to think of just one favorite thing to eat at Thanksgiving. It’s the whole meal that just doesn’t seem appropriate to have any other time of the year and the combination of flavors and smells that bring back so many favorite memories. But if I had to choose just one, it would have to be … crispy golden brown and delicious turkey skin! Thanksgiving is all about childhood memories for me, and one of my favorite memories is eyeballing that glorious roasting bird all morning as my mom basted it as it slowly cooked it in the oven or my dad carefully smoked it in the Weber Grill. I was always amazed at the transformation the turkey took from pale white to the most magnificent bronze I had ever seen, and I could not wait to get a piece of that crispy, salty goodness into my watering mouth! The smell of it cooking drove me crazy, and I probably drove my parents crazy asking, “Is it done yet? When will it be done? Can I have a piece already?” The anticipation was worse than waiting for Christmas for me! Till this day, every time I see a glistening turkey on Thanksgiving, I get that anxious feeling I had as a kid. Actually, I’m getting it right now just writing about it!”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “I’m starting a new one this year inspired by a friend of mine. I’m putting one whole garlic clove in the stuffing, and whoever gets it on their plate gets to do all the dishes! Yay!”

      What do you do with leftovers? “I make a mean turkey sandwich! I use the bones to make a base for soups — cream soups, broth-type soups, rice-porridge soups, anything goes. If there are leftover mashed potatoes, I make some turkey hash for breakfast. I sweat some onions and garlic, add some chopped turkey meat, parsley and chives and fold that in with the leftover mash. Then I form them into little patties, brush it lightly with egg wash and dust it with panko bread crumbs. Sear them off in a little butter till crispy and golden, top it with leftover gravy and a fried egg, and boom! You got a winner!”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “Being a chef away from home (Hawaii for me) means not always being able to spend holidays with your family. Sacrificing your time and energy to create incredible memories, through food for your guests, is all part of the job. With that being said, I am thankful that my girlfriend, my son and my son’s girlfriend (all of whom are professional cooks and chefs and work for Prime, Sage and Le Cirque, respectively) are all off from work on the same day of the week, which is highly unusual. We are able to do a feast with family and friends that happen to be in town a few days before Thanksgiving Day this year. I also am thankful to get to come to work and cook every day in this amazing restaurant within the legendary Bellagio and do what I love for a living. I am truly blessed to be on this stage and to have these opportunities in life. I also am thankful for my Mom’s healthy recovery and healing from cancer. Love you, Mom.”


      Serves six.

      3 tbsp butter

      3 tbsp vegetable oil

      1 medium onion, diced small

      1 carrot, peel and dice same size as onions

      1 clove garlic, germ removed and crushed

      1 pound cleaned, roasted chestnuts

      1 sprig thyme

      1 sprig sage

      1/2-inch piece Saigon cinnamon

      1 cup vin jaune or dry sherry

      2 cups vegetable stock

      2 cups half and half

      Salt and fresh black pepper

      In a pot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat, add the onion, carrot and garlic and sweat until soft.

      Add the chestnuts, herbs and cinnamon and increase the heat to moderate high and cook until the nuts are golden brown.

      Add the wine and reduce by half.

      Add the stock and half and half and bring to a boil.

      Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and continue to cook for 15 minutes.

      Remove the herbs and cinnamon and working in batches or using a hand blender puree the soup until a fine consistency is reached.

      Season with salt and pepper and reserve for service.


      1/2 c pomegranate seeds

      2 ounces pomegranate molasses

      1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or espelette pepper

      1/2 tsp fresh snipped chives and parsley

      Pinch of orange zest

      Pinch of sea salt

      3 ounces duck prosciutto julienned

      Mix all of the ingredients except the duck prosciutto in a bowl.

      Divide the garnish and julienned duck prosciutto into 6 warm bowls or cast iron cocottes, top with the soup and garnish with more fresh snipped chives, parsley and cayenne.

    • K.C. Fazel's Dutch apple crisp.

      K.C. FAZEL (Tender Steakhouse, Luxor)

      K.C. Fazel of Tender Steakhouse at Luxor.

      K.C. Fazel of Tender Steakhouse at Luxor.

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “Dessert, more specifically apple pie. This is part of my culinary history when I was 10 to 12 years old and competing with my father for the best pie of the holidays. Within a few years, I discovered that my passion was for food, and food was going to be a significant part of me. The humble apple pie was the starting point for my culinary future. A good apple pie is still my favorite dessert.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “As a chef who has worked every Thanksgiving Day since culinary school days, my family has adopted my first day off after Thanksgiving to celebrate the holiday. Typically, we invite a family we know who may not have had the means to celebrate a traditional holiday. My wife and I will spend the day cooking, then just enjoy an informal family-style dinner buffet at home with our family and visitors.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “We like to pack up a care package of food items for the family from the leftovers. I'll make a turkey shepherd’s pie/casserole by using the stuffing as the base, top it with turkey meat mixed with the leftover vegetables and gravy, and over the top of that I will use the leftover mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. We’ll gather some other food items for the family, as well.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I’m especially thankful and blessed for my wife who has shown herself to be an overcomer to many adversities in the past couple years that have attempted to bring her down. Now, she’s a new person blossoming to life with health and a renewed zest for each and every day.”


      4 lb. apples (use three varieties, such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith and Fuji)

      3/4 cup sugar

      1 Tbsp. flour

      2 Tbsp. apple jelly

      1/4 cup apple syrup

      1/2 Tbsp. lime juice

      1/4 tsp. salt

      1/2 tsp. grains of paradise

      1/2 tsp. cinnamon

      1/4 tsp. cloves

      1/4 tsp. ginger

      1/4 tsp. nutmeg

      1 uncooked pie shell

      For the streusel

      1 1/2 cups flour

      3/4 cup light brown sugar

      1 cup sugar

      1 1/2 cups oats

      1/2 unsalted butter

      1/4 tsp. salt

      1/2 tbsp. cinnamon

      Peel and core the apples and slice them into 1/2-inch thick wedges. Toss all of the apples with half of the sugar and place in perforated pan. Allow to drain for several hours.

      Meanwhile, create streusel topping by combining all dry ingredients together. Add butter and mix until incorporated. Crumble in hands and refrigerate to harden.

      With the drained apple juice, reduce liquid to thick syrup, set aside to cool.

      Toss the apples with remaining sugar, flour, jelly, syrup, lime juice, salt and spices.

      Arrange apples in uncooked pie shell and use apple juice reduction from the apples.

      Bake apple pie in 400F oven for about 30 minutes, until apples are half cooked. When apples are half cooked, spread thick layer of streusel over top and continue baking until apples are cooked through, but not mushy, and the top is golden brown. Cool overnight before cutting to allow apples to set.

    • Tony Gemignani of Pizza Rock in Downtown Las Vegas.

      TONY GEMIGNANI (Pizza Rock, Downtown)

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “My mother’s stuffing.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “We always have a Jell-O that is a raspberry marshmallow Jell-O that my mom has made since we were kids. Also, my brother and I would always fight over the skin from the turkey!”

      What do you do with leftovers? “We make sandwiches and/or pizza.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I am thankful that my father is healthy and with us for the holidays. He had a quadruple bypass this year and gave our family a big scare. He had always been so strong and healthy, so it was unexpected. I am glad, after my three recent restaurant openings, that I get to go to my parents’ house, relax with my wife and actually sit down for a meal. I can’t wait!”


      12-inch pizza dough

      2 cups yams, butternut squash or sweet potatoes (baked, cored and blended with 2 tablespoons heavy cream, pinch of salt, 1/4 cup butter, 2 tablespoon brown sugar)

      5 ounces provolone

      1/2 cup mascarpone

      2 ounces caramelized onions

      2 ounces smoked honey bacon

      Turkey, stuffing and cranberry (optional)



      Brown sugar

      Stretch pizza dough and top with cheese.

      Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes.

      Add sweet potato cream as sauce, leaving a 1-inch border.

      Add onions, bacon, turkey, stuffing and continue to bake for 5 minutes until golden brown.

      Take out of the oven and cut into slices.

      Add cranberry, nutmeg, dollops of mascarpone, cinnamon, and sprinkle of brown sugar.

      Plate and serve.

    • Chef Todd Harrington's apple tatin.

      TODD HARRINGTON (Central, Caesars Palace)

      Todd Harrington of Central Michel Richard in Caesars Palace.

      Todd Harrington of Central Michel Richard in Caesars Palace.

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “I think turkey and stuffing are by far my favorite. There are so many ways to prepare a turkey, and it’s the most nostalgic item. It always reminds me of how my siblings and I always fought over it at the table. Stuffing is definitely the most versatile item served; you can really put your personality in it and re-create something different every year.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “In general, I think it’s hard for chefs to have one because we’re always working this holiday. Growing up, my immediate family always came over, and after everyone was done eating, the vegetables were always left, and all the guys would watch football.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “Every year I challenge myself to try something new. One year I took leftover cornbread stuffing, cut it up, rolled it into balls and made stuffed mushrooms with parmesan cheese. I’ve also made turkey fritters from leftover turkey, mashed potatoes and pancake batter.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I’m always thankful for my family; my wife and daughter mean the world to me. I’m also very blessed to receive such incredible support from the Las Vegas community.”

      Recipes on our Thanksgiving prix-fixe menu at Central Michel Richard in Caesars Palace:

      1. Stuffing made with cornbread, daily bread, dried cranberries, fresh parsley, chicken stock and egg and Yukon puree made with Yukon potatoes, cream, butter, garlic and Philadelphia cream cheese.

      2. Apple tatin (pictured above) made with a whole poached apple in butter and caramel sauce for more than 10 hours and then served on a sweet pastry biscuit with vanilla ice cream topped with caramel sauce.

    • John Hilton of Three Square.

      JOHN HILTON (Three Square food bank)

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “My favorite Thanksgiving item is the bite in the very middle of the plate because it has a little bit of everything on it and is covered in gravy.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “A Thanksgiving family tradition we started five years ago is when we prepare plates filled with all the traditional hearty thanksgiving items and give it to the less fortunate.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “My favorite dish to make with leftovers is a savory shepherd’s pie: mashed potatoes, vegetables, ground turkey and stuffing — all combined into layers of comforting goodness.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I am thankful for my healthy and happy family, as well as my job at Three Square, where I know that I am making a difference in my community.”


      2 8-ounce packages cranberries, fresh or frozen

      1 orange zest cut into strips and juiced

      1/2 cup of brown sugar

      1 cinnamon stick

      1 apple small diced

      Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature or cool and refrigerate.

    • Comme Ca Executive Chef Brian Howard, Aldo Bravo, Kallie Wickel, Tony Fisher and LeAnne Douglas at Epicurean Charitable Foundation's fundraiser M.E.N.U.S. at M Resort on Sept. 30, 2011.

      BRIAN HOWARD (Comme Ca, Cosmopolitan)

      Brian Howard's foie gras stuffing.

      Brian Howard's foie gras stuffing.

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “I have always been a fan of peasant food, so a really nice stuffing excites me on Thanksgiving. Growing up, I wasn’t privy to fresh vegetables, but the mixture of turkey innards, drippings and a loaf of bread was what we usually ate. And I loved it! Through the years of becoming a skilled cook, I found new ways to keep the peasant tradition of this dish and slightly modify it with seasonal ingredients and luxury items such as chestnuts and foie gras. Sorry, California!”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “My favorite tradition that I will keep alive forever with my family is drying out the wishbone of the turkey and saving it to the following year to make a wish. My grandmother started this in our family, and it has never left me.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “Stuffing cakes. There is nothing better than pan-fried stuffing the day after smothered in gravy.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “Every day I’m thankful for where I am today, and all the great influences, like my wife, who helped keep me on the right path.”


      2 pounds fresh foie gras

      6 Fuji apples

      1 cup dried cranberries

      2 cups chestnuts, roasted and peeled

      1 cup seedless grapes, peeled

      4 cups arugula, stems off

      1 cup cippolini onions, peeled and quartered

      4 cups foccacia bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

      1 tablespoon garlic puree, mixed with two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

      3/4 cup roasted turkey drippings/jus

      4 tablespoons Italian parsley

      2 tablespoons sage

      Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

      To prepare the stuffing, cube the foie gras into 1-inch cubes and refrigerate. Peel and quarter the apples, removing the seeds and core. Cut the quarters in three even pieces. Cut the roasted chestnuts in quarters. Rub the bread cubes with the oil and garlic puree and season, toast until golden brown and cool.

      Heat a heavy saute pan over high heat and get smoking hot. Season the chunks of foie gras and sear until dark golden brown in the pan, drain off and reserve separately. Add the foie gras fat back to the pan and allow to heat. Add the onions, apples and chestnuts and roast together until golden brown, season and remove to a bowl. Wilt the arugula with some of the remaining fat and dry, add to the remaining ingredients. Mix all of the ingredients well with the chunks of foie gras and add the toasted bread cubes. Season and add the chopped herbs and turkey jus.

    • George Jacquez at Farm 24/7 in Aliante.

      GEORGE JACQUEZ (Aliante)

      Mashed potato and stuffing croquettes.

      Mashed potato and stuffing croquettes.

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “Leftovers. You can get creative and not do much in the kitchen.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “Working , then spending time with loved ones at home.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “Pumpkin pie pancakes, Thanksgiving hot pockets and fried stuffing bites.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “My family’s health and well being.”


      2 tbl milk


      1/2 tsp pepper

      1/2 tsp chopped green onion

      2 egg yolks, beaten

      3 tbl all-purpose flour

      4 cups mashed potatoes

      1 egg, beaten

      Sifted dried bread crumbs

      Oil, enough to fill pan 1/2 inch

      Leftover turkey, can be chopped and added

      Add milk, salt, pepper, chopped onion, beaten egg yolks and flour to mashed potatoes. Chill and then shape. Dip in the beaten egg, then roll through bread crumbs. Fry each croquette in shallow oil until brown on all sides.

      Note: Cook in small batches, giving each croquette at least 2 inches of space around it to not overcrowd the pan. This prevents the croquettes from crumbling while frying.


      2 cups chilled mashed potatoes (see note below)

      2 tbl vegetable oil

      2 tbl unsalted butter

      1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging

      1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

      1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

      Divide the mashed potatoes into 8 equal portions. Use your hands to form 1/2-inch-thick patties.

      Heat the oil with the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a pie plate. Coat the potato patties in the flour mixture. Add the potato cakes to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until they have formed a golden crust, 15 to 20 minutes. (Peek underneath using a spatula before turning.) Turn and cook the other side until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper and serve hot.

      Note: Make mashed potatoes from the "innards" of the garlic-roasted potato skins by mashing them with 1/2 cup hot milk and 4 tablespoons of softened, unsalted butter. Don't forget to season them with salt and pepper! Chill the mashed potatoes overnight for the best results.

    • 2013 Nobu United at Nobu Caesars Palace on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, with chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his U.S. chefs.

      NICOLAS MAZIER (Nobu, Caesars Palace)

      Nicolas Mazier of Nobu Caesars Palace.

      Nicolas Mazier of Nobu Caesars Palace.

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “My favorite item for Thanksgiving is the stuffing because it reminds me of when I was a kid back in France, and my great-grandmother would make stuffing for the holidays. Her stuffing was a little different than traditional American stuffing; it was made with pork, chestnuts and fresh vegetables grown in her garden. It was the dish we all craved for the next 364 days!”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “We usually go to my in-laws’ house for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on the Thursday, then on Friday my second family (my friends) all get together to do our “alternative Thanksgiving dinner.” We each cook nontraditional items such as a deep fried turkey, coconut curry crab and Jamaican-style jerk fish made with snapper.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “In my mom’s house, we use the leftovers to make savory crepes!”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I am thankful for my friends and family, especially my beautiful wife. But most of all I am thankful for all the blessings God has bestowed on us.”


      400 gr ground pork

      200 gr ground beef

      20 gr shallots

      1 bunch parsley

      1 bunch chives

      100 gr chestnuts

      50 gr shiitake mushrooms

      50 gr celery

      50 gr carrots

      20 gr fresh garlic

      50 gr yellow onions

      1/2 loaf Cuban bread

      4 eggs



      Cayenne pepper


      In a bowl, mix the ground pork and ground beef together. Chop the onions, shallots, carrots, celery, chives, parsley and the garlic and mix with meat. Preheat your oven at 425 degrees. Soak the bread in milk. Take the chestnuts, cut an “x” on the flat side, place on a baking tray and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes, shaking the tray once in a while to avoid burning the chestnuts. Slice the shiitake into 1/2-inch pieces. Strain the bread and add to the mix. Once the chestnuts are done, crack them open and chop roughly. Add to mix. Strain the bread and add to mix. Season mix with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

    • The turkey combo at Tacos & Tequila in Luxor.

      SAUL ORTIZ (Tacos & Tequila, Luxor)

      Saul Ortiz of Tacos & Tequila in Luxor.

      Saul Ortiz of Tacos & Tequila in Luxor.

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “My favorite Thanksgiving item is the actual turkey. A lot of people have a bad experience cooking the bird, but the reality is you have to keep it moist above all and, just like any good recipe, well seasoned. It’s as easy as it sounds. I like the challenge of pulling a perfect bird.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “My wife and kids love when I mix both of our cultures and do turkey in Mexican adobo with avocado leaves. This is to die for. The adobo keeps the bird moist, and the avocado leaves give out a creamy earthy flavor.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “Being a chef has helped me come out with lots of options, and it’s ideal to keep my leftovers from seeing the trash can. For example, with the leftover cranberries, I cook them with orange juice/ red onion and honey to make an awesome cranberry/onion marmalade. This is great as a spread on fresh toast and with a glass of wine, red if you ask me. You can do tons of things with leftover meat, sides and stuffing. You can make casseroles, turkey pot pies, vinaigrettes with fresh berries and sweet potato purees for raviolis.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I’m thankful for my family, health, friends, God and for having food every day at my table.”


      2 oz fresh sliced cranberries

      2 cups orange juice

      1/2 red onion (sliced thinly)

      1/2 cup honey or agave nectar

      Place the sliced onions and cranberries in a sauce pot and add all the wet ingredients. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes at low heat till everything has cooked down. Turn off heat once you have a thick marmalade.

    • JOE PANINO (Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse, D Las Vegas)

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “My favorite thing to have for Thanksgiving is roast duck. However, my family loves seafood, so every year I’m outvoted, and we settle on lobster, clams and calamari.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “Being Italian, the Thanksgiving tradition in our family is not turkey. It’s lobster and clams, starts in the morning with lobster cocktail and clams on the half shell, followed shortly thereafter with Bloody Marys, and the day continues from there.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “Most of the time, there are no leftovers, but if there were, I would make lobster ravioli and baked clams casino.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I’m thankful this year for moving to Las Vegas and having a great job, still having my wife by my side and working with some really great people. I almost forgot — not having to shovel snow!”


      With blackberry Chambord sauce

      1 each 3 1/2 lb duck

      1 loaf Italian Bread

      3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage

      10 each fresh sage leaves

      1 tsp rubbed dry sage

      1 each medium white onion

      Salt and pepper to taste

      3 cups water


      2 cups blackberries

      1/2 cup sugar

      1/2 cup duck stock

      1/2 cup Chambord

      Sauce method: Combine all ingredients and simmer until reduced by half.

      Duck preparation: Wash duck and pat dry. Salt and pepper outside and inside cavity. Place in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Remove from duck fat at once; let it cool down. Then cut in half removing ribs and backbone.

      With bones, make stock for sauce with1 quart water and reduce by half. Strain and skim fat off the top.

    • Megan Romano's apple-cranberry pie.

      MEGAN ROMANO (Chocolate & Spice Bakery, 7293 W. Sahara Ave.)

      Megan Romano.

      Megan Romano.

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “There is nothing like the smell of a beautiful herb-roasted turkey that fills our house Thanksgiving morning. And to start things right, my husband makes a great Blood Mary. He coats the rim of the glass with a touch of simple syrup, grated lime zest and fleur de sel. The Blood Mary is made with tomato juice, fresh grated horseradish, a touch of beef bouillon, black pepper and hot sauce, garnished with spicy asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. It is delicious!”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “Our tradition is to cook Thanksgiving together as a family. Our turkey will be marinating in a brine for several days before. The day before Thanksgiving, we assemble all items for the sides, trim vegetables, cube bread for stuffing, etc., so that the assembly the next morning is easy. The turkey is stuffed with herbs, garlic, candied orange and put in the oven early along with pies. We try to all get outside before returning to a great smelling kitchen and sitting down for the big meal.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “My husband no longer trusts me with Thanksgiving leftovers because one year I wrapped them all up ... and mistakenly gave all away to friends who joined us for the dinner. When he went to look for that Thanksgiving turkey sandwich later that evening, there was not a piece left. So he now manages the valuable distribution of leftovers. We make turkey gruyere and spinach frittata; turkey pot pie with buttery, flakey puff-pastry crust; turkey gravy and biscuits for the kids; the ultimate turkey sandwich with turkey, sausage stuffing, green beans, cranberry relish and mustard apricot aioli on toasted wholegrain sandwich; and desserts are easy because every pie is made better served a la mode with salted maple ice cream, apple butter and sweet cream in a sundae class.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I am thankful each and every year for the health and happiness of my family. My husband and kids are a huge support, especially after branching out to start our own business.”


      Pie dough

      1/4 ea vanilla bean

      1 # 5 oz cake flour

      12 oz high-gluten flour

      1/4 c confectioners’ sugar

      1/4 c sugar

      14 oz butter

      1 c water

      Egg wash

      1 ea egg

      1 1/2 T water

      Fruit filling

      6 ea large granny smith apples

      3/4 c cranberry

      1/2 ea zest of orange

      1/2 ea zest of lemon

      1/2 c sugar

      2 T all-purpose flour

      Preheat oven to 325.

      Method for pie dough:

      Slice vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds. Wrap and store remaining 3/4 of vanilla bean. Place vanilla pieces in a sifter. Add all dry ingredients on top and pass through the sieve. Using a box grater on the largest setting, grate butter into small pieces. Place in the freezer for 1/2 hour. Place all dry ingredients/flour mixture into a mixing bowl. Begin mixing until butter is evenly distributed. Begin pouring in the cold water, incorporating just until the dough begins to form and ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Gather dough, roll between two sheets of parchment paper, cut the size of the desired pie mold and chill for 1/2 hour. Take the circular piece of dough and lay over the mold. As dough softens, fit to the mold. Roll the remaining dough and chill for the lattice top. Using a fluted-edge cutter, cut dough in long strips and set aside for lattice top.

      Method for fruit filling:

      Peel and slice apples into slivers 1/4-1/2” thick. Marinate apples with remaining ingredients for 15 minutes. Place all fruit into prepared pie mold. Arrange strips of dough alternately horizontally and vertically for lattice pattern. For egg wash, whisk eggs and water. Brush the top of the pie dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

      For baking, place assembled pie onto a silt pat lined sheet tray. Bake for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil and continue baking for 25 minutes.

    • Tom Ryan's turkey stuffing.

      TOM RYAN (Smashburger founder)

      Tom Ryan's two-day gravy.

      Tom Ryan's two-day gravy.

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “I do almost all of the cooking for our family, so I have to say the turkey is my favorite because it is my favorite part of the cooking theater. I always get a fresh turkey, as big as I can find, typically 30 to 35 pounds — a “turkosaurus”! I brine it, season it, stuff it and roast it long and slow. It fills the house with that unmistakable holiday aroma and is majestic on the table.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “We have a family champagne breakfast in the morning, with the Macy's parade on TV, our Thanksgiving feast mid-afternoon, and, before dessert, we put up and decorate our Christmas tree. It’s a great immediate transition to the Christmas season.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “We make a ton of food for this meal, so we always have a lot of leftovers. Since we often have guests, we make care packages for everyone to take home. Next, our three college-age kids make a solid dent in what’s left over the weekend. My wife Jody is a sandwich junkie, so the balance of everything that’s left typically ends up between bread! I also make stock from the turkey bones, roasted skin, etc. It’s great for cooking into the Christmas holiday.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I am so thankful to see all my children excelling and enjoying life. Jade, my oldest, just moved to Australia. Lexi, my middle, is graduating from college. My son Brennan is kicking it at Tulane down in my favorite city, New Orleans. If you read between the lines, all this means my wife Jody and I get to enjoy our new lives with just us. Very fulfilling … and very thankful.”


      10 pounds of frozen turkey necks

      3/4 gallon of water

      Onion peels, celery trim, herb stems from stuffing recipe

      Poultry seasoning

      Kosher salt

      1/2 cup flour

      1/4 pound butter

      3 to 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

      Place turkey necks on baking sheets in a single layer, season liberally with Kosher salt and poultry seasoning. Place in a 350F oven and bake very hard, about 2 hours.

      While the turkey necks are baking, start the stock by bringing the water, onion trim, celery trim and herb trim/stems to a boil. Let simmer as the necks roast.

      After two hours, remove the necks from the oven and place them in the stock. Deglaze all the residue from the baking sheets using hot stock. (The baked-on juices from the necks may look black, but dissolve to a beautiful reddish brown color once deglazed). Add this liquid to the stock. Turn up the heat and boil the roasted necks in the stock for 2 hours. Add water back to the stock if needed.

      Remove the necks from the stock with a slotted spoon and place in a single layer to cool. Once cool, pick the meat from the neck bones. The meat should peel from the bones very easily, and the necks will break into individual bones, as well. Reserve the meat in a refrigerator. Place the bones back into the stock and simmer on medium for 2-3 hours. Let cool and strain. Reserve the liquid and discard the turkey bones et al. This is a good place to stop on Day 1. Refrigerate the stock.

      Now it is time to make the final gravy. Heat the stock. In a frying pan, make a roux by melting the butter, slowly stirring in the flour. Use a whisk and stir constantly until all of the flour is in. The roux should look like very light peanut butter. Set aside.

      Remove the finished turkey from the roasting pan. Pour off all the fat. Use the heated stock to deglazed the turkey pan. Add the deglazed liquid to the stock. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, whisk the roux slowly into the stock. Continue to boil. Stir in the turkey meat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the fresh rosemary, stir and serve.


      3 large yellow or white onions, diced

      1/4 lb of unsalted butter

      1/2 cup of milk

      1 bunch of celery

      2 bags Pepperidge Farms cubed stuffing

      2 bunches or curly parsley

      3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

      15 fresh sage leaves

      10 sprigs of fresh thyme

      Poultry seasoning



      Melt butter in a large saucepan.

      Add diced onions on medium heat, saute for 20 minutes, or until onions start to brown.

      Add the milk, bring to a simmer and cook down for 5 minutes on medium heat. Set aside.

      Wash, trim and dice celery. Cut ribs lengthwise into 4, then dice. Reserve all leaves and center yellow heart.

      Remove the stems from the parsley and other herbs. Add the celery leaves and heart and chop fine.

      In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 bags of the seasoned breading cubes, the diced celery, chopped herbs, two teaspoons of poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well with a large wooden spoon.

      Add the onion/milk mixture and mix well. Add more poultry seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before stuffing into turkey. This allows the stuffing to soften and the flavors to permeate.

    • Angelo Sosa.

      ANGELO SOSA (Poppy Den, Tivoli Village)

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “Hands down the stuffing. I love the yumminess of all the turkey juices that are absorbed in the stuffing, especially when there’s sage and some raisins. The accent of the sweetness is incredible.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “I grew up in a very small town in Connecticut named Durham. I lived at the end of the block on a hill, and there was a huge circle where all of my cousins and family would play a football game every year. We are a very competitive family.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “The day after Thanksgiving, my mother would always make turkey soup from all the turkey bone that was left over. It was truly comfort food.”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “Recently, I moved to Las Vegas, and I’m truly thankful. I have amazing friends and loved ones to spend the holiday with; I believe these people are going to be lifetime friends and loved ones.”


      2 cups cranberries, frozen

      1/2 cup agave

      1 cup cranberry juice

      1/4 cup red wine vinegar

      1/4 cup Sriracha

      2 pc. star anise

      1 pc. cinnamon

      5 pc. coriander seed

      1 tbl. ginger, chopped

      1/4 tsp. salt

      In a medium-sized pot, combine the first 5 ingredients and cook at medium for 15 minutes. The mixture should be reduced by a third.

      Using a small saute pan, slowly toast your spices (star anise, cinnamon, coriander) until aromatic. Remove spices from pan and rest until cool.

      Combine all ingredients together and continue to cook cranberry mixture for 10 minutes to infuse all the flavors. Remove from heat and cool. Serve as desired.

      This sweet and sour cranberry sauce should have a slight kick to it with the Sriracha and would dazzle up your Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

    • Kim Canteenwalla, Elizabeth Blau and Joe Zanelli of Honey Salt.

      JOE ZANELLI (Honey Salt, Summerlin)

      What is your favorite item of the Thanksgiving meal? “The stuffing — I only eat it during this time of year. It’s one of those things that is the essence of Thanksgiving. All the organs roasted and combined with herbs, bread, cranberries, turkey stock and butter. It turns into something packed with flavor.”

      What is a family tradition at Thanksgiving? “We always start off with some New England oysters and bacon-wrapped scallops brushed with maple syrup.”

      What do you do with leftovers? “Eat them at midnight, then the next day, as well!”

      What are you especially thankful for this year? “I'm thankful for the health of everyone in my family. This is the first year in a few that no one is really sick.”


      6 ea yams or sweet potatoes, cut into wedges

      1/4 c vegetable stock

      1/4 c unsalted butter

      1/4 c brown sugar

      Salt and pepper to taste

      2 ea whole cloves

      1/2 c toasted chopped walnuts

      Peel, then boil the yams until almost tender.

      Combine vegetable stock, brown sugar, butter and cloves and boil for 5 minutes.

      Cover the yams with mixture and bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees, basting them every 5 minutes.

      Top with toasted walnuts and bake 5 more minutes.

    Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun. Follow him on Twitter at

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