Food News

What Miami Chefs Eat & Cook on Christmas

Today is Christmas, which means you're celebrating one way or another.

If you're anything like me, you spent your childhood (and a good portion of your adult life) wondering whether your family Christmas was unconventional or just plain weird. In Spain, Christmas always consisted of pata negra ham, grilled langoustines, and tapioca soup to start. Then we moved on to lamb chops and some form of fish cooked in salt, ending the meal with almond cake or nougat. When we moved to Miami, our Christmas spread seemed atypical compared to the customary caja china, congri, and yuca that everyone seemed to be eating.

But that's just a couple of ways to commemorate the merry holiday. Everyone (including chefs) has different traditions, recipes, and rituals. Whether it's ordering Chinese food and eating it in their underwear or picking up some KFC, Miami's chef's dish on how they spend their xmas -- cooking or not.

See also: A Very Boozy Christmas: The Ten Best Gifts at the Liquor Store

Giorgio Rapicavoli, Eating House

My grandmother makes capelletti in brodi on Christmas Day. My whole family looks forward to it every year. She also makes all of us start eating tangerines in November to save all the skins so she can dry them and use the skins for a traditional Italian dessert called pitanchiusa.

Brad Kilgore, Alter

For Christmas I love to cook the traditional items like ham, sweet potatoes, and casseroles, but always put a nice twist on it. Instead of just a honey-glazed ham I enhance it with some chipotle peppers and anise seed. One thing I do like to pair with ham is a version of my grandfather's raisin-pineapple chutney. I add a touch of fresh ginger, ceylon cinnamon stick, and some orange zest to his family recipe. Or make the Classic Americana green bean casserole with fresh haricot verts and a parmesan-wild mushroom fondue (instead of canned cream of mushroom soup) with fried shallots to top it off.

Makoto Okuwa, Makoto

My go to Christmas dish is buttermilk fried chicken. I don't know why, but I guess these are cultural things. Since I was little my parents took me to KFC often on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day and you could see the long line from inside to outside. I guess Japan created some sort of marketing campaign with KFC. Also, roast beef. I know it's boring and topical, but you can't go wrong with nice piece of beautiful meat. I will be roasting a whole block of ribeye this Christmas, seasoning it with lots of sea salt, chopped herbs and garlic mixed with EVOO all over the meat. And for dessert, apple pie with vanilla ice cream!

Danny Serfer, Blue Collar & Mignonette

I'm a big fat Jew, so Chinese food it is. I particularly like eating Peking duck and various take out at home while watching a Christmas Story. Or eating ham on Xmas morning in my underwear.

Fabio Viviani, Siena Tavern

Every Christmas Eve since I was very young, my grandmother and our family would roast about 40 whole chickens. We would cut up the chickens once they were cooked and deliver them to the local church for the homeless people. It's a tradition I looked forward to every year and one that brought the whole family together. One tradition I will never forget is every Christmas morning I would sit down with my grandpa and we would each eat a FULL pandoro cake- YES you heard that right, we each would have our very own cake. It's about 1 inches tall and 7 inches wide and we would eat every single bite while talking the whole morning.

Daniel Ramirez, Harry's Pizzeria

Whole roasted pig... Lechon!! We build a pit with cinder blocks and cover the pig with banana leaves. I put ginger, oregano, lots of salt and pepper, and sour orange juice in my mojo. Then we finish it with yuca, roasted veggies and congri.

Cindy Hutson, Ortanique on the Mile

This Christmas we will be having curry brined pheasant with mango cranberry chili chutney as one of our dishes. My partner Delius and I went hunting last week and we were quite surprised out our aim. We actually got enough birds to do a platter for Christmas. We also will have a Turkey as well for tradition sake served with a savory roasted chestnut brioche bread pudding. This served with a great glass of Rose from Provence will make this Christmas killer.

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive and today is involved with a tech startup. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.