Desert island Christmas

Our annual festive-themed special, as you tell us how you will be celebrating...

Lee Taylor
Chef manager, Academy by Atalian Servest

Our Christmas menu is a surprise only to be revealed on the day. My wife, my daughter and I all take a course each and get creative in the kitchen. It’s a fantastic tradition.

We’ve had waffles, bacon, maple syrup, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce for breakfast before, which is throwback to my army days. Some years we’ve had slow barbequed beef for main or smoked salmon with brussel sprouts and poached eggs.

Usually, my daughter makes the dessert, but I’ve claimed that this year. I have an inventive new recipe up my sleeves that includes a very savoury ingredient. Of course, no Christmas is complete without Welsh whisky.

Angus Brydon 
Divisional managing director, Bartlett Mitchell 

We actually have a slightly leftfield tradition in our household that started a few years ago when our food delivery didn’t turn up on Christmas Eve. It basically involves ordering crispy duck and pancakes from our local Chinese restaurant, while we prepare for the following day.

Christmas Day morning is all about the children and their presents, and once the excitement has settled down then the food begins. We have mixed it up over the years between eating out and cooking at home. I prefer cooking the feast at home. We usually have the traditional roast turkey and all the usual suspects to accompany the bird. After lunch the usual dog walk, followed by cheese and other food we probably don’t need and a glass or two, or three, of something.

Geraldo Barros
Catering manager, BaxterStorey

Christmas has always been about family – a loud and loving one – and a big table with enough food to feed an army. In Portugal, where I am from, the main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, with salted cod, boiled potatoes and cabbage being the main feature. 

Desserts are inspired by ancient recipes passed between generations, with everyone adding their little twist and claiming them to be ‘the best you ever had’. Port wine is also a must-have!

Since we came to the UK, a bit of indulgence has been added in the shape of a brandy-doused, flaming, boozy Christmas pudding – while you video call family back home!

Chris Ribaudo
Chef director, Blue Apple

Veg prep starts on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, we like to start with smoked salmon, poached eggs and smashed avocado on sourdough for the vegan family members – served with the obligatory bucks fizz and or a snowball!

I brine the turkey on Christmas Eve. It is stuffed and tucked away into the Kamado Joe, which I light at about 10am and set to cook low and slow for about five hours. The 75-day dry aged forerib of beef goes into the water bath for four hours. I put a pumpkin, bean and seed roast in the oven, along with rapeseed oil roasties, sprouts and stem broccoli, roasted roots, cauli cheese, naughty pigs in blankets and Yorkshire puddings. I let the turkey rest when it’s cooked, before I gather all the bits together and giving the beef a sear on the barbeque.

At 4pm, everyone mucks in and we sit down, carve up and crack open a bottle of Amarone and let the festivities begin. Of course, we find time to swap presents, share stories of the year we have all experienced and eat Christmas pudding, cheese and a cheeky port. Have merry a Christmas and a prosperous 2022!

Erica Hines
Assistant development chef, Fooditude 

So, my Christmas morning starts with my daughter Nylah coming into my room screaming ‘it’s Christmas!’ I’ll put on the Christmas music, pop open a bottle of bubbly and start cooking the traditional Caribbean breakfast I’ve grown up with, which is ackee and saltfish, fried plantain, boiled green banana, fried dumplings and buttered hardo bread. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without that salt fish smell in the morning!

After breakfast it’s presents time, followed with a large glass of ice-cold Guinness punch. After presents, Nylah will play with all her new gifts while I get the dinner on – turkey, rice and peas, mac and cheese, roast potatoes, stuffing, sprouts, coleslaw, salad and all the condiments. 

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without board games in my house. Uno, Frustration, ludo, and snakes and ladders will all be out!

Emma Lidgitt
Development chef, ISS UK

Christmas Day at mine is always traditional, plus a couple of quirks. Living in Yorkshire, we have to have Yorkie puds with our turkey, along with all the trimmings! Lunch is washed down with my signature dairy-free Baileys espresso martini cocktails.

Boxing Day is where it gets interesting. I host a Spanish feasting table get-together for family and friends. Think tapas dishes piled with seafood and a centrepiece of fideua, a paella made with pasta instead of rice. I learned the recipe from a Spanish friend and cooked it up one year – due to popular demand, it’s been on the menu ever since!

Gavin Annon
Sales and marketing director, Mount Charles

The greatest day of the year has arrived – in my eyes anyway – and food is always still top of the list. Once the excitement of opening Santa’s presents has calmed down, we tuck into our annual Christmas morning cooked breakfast. We try to not have it too late in the morning to save space for the main event! Thankfully, our kids make sure we’re up early.

Traditional Christmas dinner is served up mid-afternoon, including turkey, ham, homemade stuffing and all the trimmings including Brussels sprouts. By night-time we’ve only space for turkey sandwiches… and strawberry pavlova.

Ben Dutson
Food innovation director, Sodexo Live!

With two young kids, our Christmas traditions have changed to being all about them, which is lovely. We have an open house at Christmas and the village carol service is our annual tradition, always followed by a visit to the pub.

On the big day itself, you’ll find us tucking into a traditional big roast – a crown of Norfolk turkey, rib of beef, 47 roast potatoes and my secret gravy recipe. This is all washed down with a glass of Ridgeview, a fantastic sustainable English sparkling from my hometown at the foot of the South Downs, or Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque if we’re feeling posh.

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