From barbeques to bûche de Noël, Christmas dinner customs couldn't be more dissimilar across the world. In Japan, it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without KFC. Here, the fast food dinner is so popular over there that you’re recommended to order up to 2 months in advance. Whilst for Italians, ‘The Feast of the Seven Fishes’ eaten on Christmas Eve, is a typical holiday tradition.
From Brazil to Australia, via Japan and France, we invited some of our favorite foreign-born chefs to let us in on some of their practices and to see what they’ll be enjoying for Christmas dinner this year.
As a fellow Brit, I can confirm that chef Parveen Ashraf will be celebrating the way most of us do, by enjoying a family dinner - typically roast turkey with trimmings, Christmas pudding for dessert accompanied by plenty of alcohol - and watching the Queen’s speech on television. “My traditional Christmas is a family dinner, but instead of turkey, I make tandoori roast chicken and tandoori roast potatoes with honey & cumin roasted parsnips. And then we all watch the Queen’s speech!”
British-born chef Jonathan Cartwright, Executive chef of the White Barn Inn & Spa’ s restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine, usually works on Christmas, and enjoys what he calls an “Orphan Dinner.” “This is where all the team that is international or doesn’t have family in the area sits down to share a Christmas meal. I like some goose and always a little Christmas pudding with brandy butter,” he says. “We always have a great time sharing stories and doing a Secret Santa gift exchange.”
Over in New Zealand, where summer is just kicking off, things couldn’t be more different. Executive chef and owner of New York restaurant the Musket Room, chef Matt Lambert, shares his memories of a typical “Kiwi” Christmas. “We had a family tradition of having a champagne breakfast. Usually after enjoying the freshest fruits of summer and drinking some bloody good Kiwi bubbly, we would get ready to go to a big family lunch. This would always consist of roasted turkey and ham. The biggest thing was dessert! Mum would always smash out a really good pavlova and a trifle, jelly - or in america ‘jello’ - was always on the menu too. After we had partaken in the family festivities, the evening was spent catching up with close friends, and it was time for the booze and barbecues,” recalls chef Matt Lambert.
So, if you don’t fancy your "typical" festive menu this year, why not try some of these foreign recipes, from Wolfgang Puck’s favorite linzer cookies to Masaharu Morimoto’s Sukiyaki.