It’s the Holidays. Keep it Simple

It’s the Holidays.  Keep it Simple


As the Holidays approach, we begin to plan our special meals for those very special days and nights with family and friends.  All too often the desire to impress our guests takes over and far too much time is spent in the kitchen and no enough time is spent with our guests themselves. The risk and time dedicated to trying a new recipe (out of one of those foodie magazines with the pretty pictures) can sometimes end in disaster. Or at the very least, working in the kitchen can consume so much of our time that we loose sight of the purpose of our meal, which for me is to enjoy time with friends and family.  My simple but important advice: KEEP IT SIMPLE. 

To spend more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen, the menu should be simple.  Cooking is based on methodology, technique, watching, tasting and adjusting.  Pay attention to the ingredients before you and give them the respect they deserve.  At some level, it took another individual’s passion to grow, raise or prepare them; now is your cancel to take his or her patience in the field and use them at the table.

 As a professional chef I am constantly asked how to make just about everything imaginable.  Truth is, I have almost no recipes, certainly very few recipes to memory. Unless it pertains to pastry treats, which is an area I have spent much of my culinary career perfecting, I go to the tried & true: the back of the can.    When asked how to make the perfect pumpkin pie, for example, I turn to the best all-American recipe on the back of the can of Libby’s brand pumpkin puree.  Follow it to the T and do not substitute even “pumpkin pie spice” for the individual ingredients and you’ll be more than impressed.  Sound too simple or not authentic? Think again. 

Let this hold true for all your preparations this Holiday season.  Use quality ingredients.  Dairy fresh butter and cream.  Fresh butchered fowl or roasts.  Farm fresh produce and don’t forget the Organic Eggnog.  The bottom line: if you start with quality, prepare the classics that almost every family member and friend love, you will spend more time with them and less in the kitchen.  And I guarantee you will still get rave reviews. 

 Save the cooking magazine recipes for a night with a few friends.  If they are a hit, you look like a champ, if the recipe bombs, well, pop the cork on another bottle of wine.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season.

Cheers, Chris (aka Chef Ritchie)


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