While some famous foodies serve turkey others have more unusual festive faves, discovers Ella Walker. Every family has its own special Christmas traditions, but what do chefs and cookery book writers do on December 25?
“I’m a bit weird, so we have the roast turkey, which isn’t actually traditional – we’ve only been doing that for about 70 years really in Britain, give or take. Turkey is from South America,” he explains. “I normally have a small Christmas and then a big party the next day, so I do turkey, Porchetta and goose.”
Guardian columnist, Tenderstem ambassador and author of Fresh India, Meera Sodha, switches turkey for duck…
“My Gujarati family are happy with potato curry on Christmas, but that’s not very exciting when you’ve grown up with traditional Christmas food,” she explains. “Something that’s become a bit of a tradition in my house is duck fesenjan, which is beautiful roasted duck with a pomegranate molasses and walnut sauce.
“We used to have Christmas dinner – which was turkey and all the trimmings – but it was in South Africa in blazing heat, so we all had to have a siesta afterwards. It’s the most unsuitable food for the middle of summer,” she remembers.
Simon Hulstone, owner and chef at Michelin-starred restaurant The Elephant in Torquay and champion of Seaweed From Norway, usually works on Christmas day…
“From December 1 to Christmas Day, I just don’t want to eat turkey. It’s everywhere in the restaurant,” he explains. “I love it, but by then I just don’t want any. Last Christmas was maybe my first Christmas off ever.
“There’s just times where you can’t carry on doing the same things year after year, because people come, people go, houses change, kitchens change and you need to adapt,” explains Meller, whose mother, who would traditionally host the family Christmas, died last year.
“This year, I’m doing Christmas at our house and I want to do something really unconventional because I’m always disappointed by the food at Christmas. I mean, I love it, and I gorge and I want to die afterwards because I’ve eaten so much, but it’s not my first choice.
Food critic William Sitwell, ambassador for the Royal Voluntary Service’s Cooking For A Crowd campaign, is all about keeping things traditional…
“I’m pretty traditional. My father always used to make baked eggs in the morning, then it’s church, then a glass of champagne and the first present. I like to have lunch quite promptly at 1.30pm – turkey and all the trimmings. I love it,” he buzzes.