Opinion

Reminiscing: Arizona chefs, restaurateurs share cherished Thanksgiving memories

Posted 11/24/21

Prominent chefs and restaurateurs from around the Valley share some of their favorite Thanksgiving memories with the Independent Newsmedia reader community, including favorite holiday dishes and some of the unique family traditions they’ve cherished over the years.

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Opinion

Reminiscing: Arizona chefs, restaurateurs share cherished Thanksgiving memories

Posted

Prominent chefs and restaurateurs from around the Valley share some of their favorite Thanksgiving memories with the Independent Newsmedia reader community, including favorite holiday dishes and some of the unique family traditions they’ve cherished over the years.

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Since I can remember, my father would get up early on Thanksgiving morning to slow roast “the bird” on our old school Weber Kettle charcoal grill. Over the years, he has slowly passed this tradition on to me. This Thanksgiving will especially be a bittersweet one since my Pops just passed away. But the tradition will live on with wonderful memories.Matt Keeler of Keeler Hospitality Group (Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse and Liberty Station American Tavern and Smokehouse)

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My most memorable Thanksgivings were growing up in the Pacific Northwest during the ‘70s. My grandfather had a 1967 Chrysler Newport that was his pride and joy — he waxed it a couple times a month. We would fill it to the brim with our family and maybe a cousin or two. It was a big giant boat of a car with a squishy suspension that just kind of floated down the road. Grandpa loved the delicate power steering and would drive well over the speed limit with just a fore finger and thumb pinching the steering wheel. We would drive south from Seattle for a couple of hours to my great Aunt Katherine’s homestead in the mountains for the standard Thanksgiving fare — but much of it was grown, raised and or/canned on their property and cooked on a big old wood-fired range in the kitchen. I feel fortunate to have been a child in the ’70s with older relatives who were born in the beginning of the 20th century doing things as they learn from their parents.Mike Funk, founder and owner, Firecreek Coffee

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My mom would cook for days, and the house smelled amazing. One year, we were hosting a large, extended family Thanksgiving gathering with about 40 people. The tables were set with mismatched settings — a combination of formal and everyday china — and we used linen napkins. The house was filled with laughter and tons of food. It was the first time I’d tasted fresh cranberry sauce and I was hooked. This remains such a wonderful, warm holiday memory.Chantal Hause, co-owner of Fabulous Food

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One of my favorite traditions at Thanksgiving is writing the turkey notes. Well, maybe not writing them… but I love having them on the Thanksgiving table. It makes me feel like Thanksgiving is complete. My mom always wanted me to write them when I was younger, and now I find myself asking my daughter to help me get ready for the dinner and write them for our friends and family. I thought everyone grew up with turkey notes at the Thanksgiving table. But come to find out it’s an Iowa thing! They originated in my hometown of Davenport, Iowa. What are turkey notes? They are fun little notes that rhyme, placed at each table setting made up for each guest … They are typically wrapped up in fun tissue paper and read aloud around the table.Carrie Ummel, co-owner of the Buzz Eatery & Treats/Buzz Concepts

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My favorite Thanksgiving memory is my grandmother’s noodles and one of the best Thanksgiving dishes I ever ate was a sous vide turkey I had once, it was fantastic.Christopher Gross, chef/director, Christopher’s at the Wrigley, C144 and Christopher’s at Sky-Harbor

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We have a strict tradition since we moved to Arizona in 2006 … On Thanksgiving Day, some very close family friends come to our home and on Christmas, we go to theirs. The Thanksgiving turkey was taking much longer to cook than anyone expected, so the wine was flowing as we waited. My wife, Carrie, makes amazing appetizers and she decided that not only would the traditional brie cheese with roasted pecans should have brandy poured on top, but that we should probably use a little extra since the brandy was already out! So, a few pours made their way into the homemade whipped cream and now every Thanksgiving pie always has a generous serving of brandy whipped cream on top!Tim Ummel, managing partner of Buzz Concepts (The Buzz Eatery and Treats in Kierland Commons)

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