How to have The Best Christmas Dinner

Mikaela Ian

Ten Tip from Chefs in Bermuda

The Christmas season is all about family, togetherness, love and of course, food (even if you decide to eat out). If you’re anything like me, you wait all year for Christmas and plan out the menu well in advance. Maybe your menu is traditional or maybe, it features new and exciting dishes every year. But one thing remains – you want it to be the best Christmas dinner.

You have your dishes perfected and you know exactly what you will be cooking and what you will need. But not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes you just need a few tips or some advice from a seasoned chef to get you through the holiday season and its high stakes cooking. Enter the pros. 

I spoke with Chef James Wambui of The Cloud, Chef Antwan Ellis of Intrepid and Dimuth Sepalage, Head Pastry Chef of The Loren. They each gave their best tips for cooking and baking for the holiday season to set you up for success.

Chef James Wambui

Chef James’ Tips:

  1. Open a bottle of beer, That should solve all major problems of the day. Get a beer going. This is the drink to clear the air. This gives me courage and clarity. I think ‘I’m OK and I’m ready for this day’.”

2. Prep, prep, prep. If you’re going to cook for Christmas Day, get it ready the night before. Decide what you’re cooking ahead of time. Assign who you want to do the food. Get the prep work done, show up early and drink more beer.

3. Remember what the day is about. The most important thing for me when I think of a tip, remember you’re cooking for your family. You’re cooking for love. Whether it’s breakfast or lunch, the thing you really have to channel is love. When you’re cooking for love, it changes everything. Christmas is for togetherness. 

Chef Dimuth Sepalage

Chef Dimuth’s Tips:

4. If you are new to baking for the holidays, you should get some recipes to follow so that it gives you guidelines. The recipes will tell you what needs to be done, what ingredients you need to incorporate, what to stock up on early and what to do.

5. Do what you can ahead of time such as Christmas puddings and cakes, the fruits can be done early and then followed by cookies. The dough can be made early and frozen. That saves time because you can bake later. Planning is the most important. Decide what to bake, when to bake and then bake accordingly.

6. Experiment, but do it ahead of time and practice. It’s better to practice your baking. You don’t want to have something unexpected happen. At least bake it once in a small portion.

Chef Antwan Ellis

Chef Antwan’s Tips:

7. Start with comfort food, When it comes to Christmas, I like comfort food. Anything that I can find comfort in eating, I want to make and I want to make it a little bit different. I love mac and cheese and cheesy potatoes. Those are things that I like for Christmas, so something different, but something you’re comfortable doing. Who doesn’t like potatoes and cheese for Christmas?”

8. Do something different and think of who you’re cooking for. Food for me is family. Even if it’s friends, it’s still family. Christmas is about spending time with people you’re close to, what you’re going to eat, having fun, drinking and showing off in the kitchen a little bit. You know, like ‘yes, my food is the best’. “

9. Start the day before so that you can be successful.

10. I always recommend having a Christmas drink with your Christmas dinner. In Puerto Rico, they have Coquito. In Barbados, it’s called Punch O’ Creme. You blend eggs, heavy cream, rum and grated coconut and steep it with fresh cinnamon. It’s very sweet. You have to have that every year. You can’t have a good Christmas dinner without a good alcoholic drink.

I hope you find these tips helpful as you prepare for Christmas this year. Whether it’s your first time preparing the big meal or you’re a seasoned pro, I think we can learn a thing or two from a professional chef. May your turkey be juicy, your cassava pie moist and your potatoes super cheesy. Have a Merry Christmas!

I‘m Mikaela, an island girl in Bermuda who’s obsessed with sharing gourmet food, fantastic wine and luxe experiences. If you love all things food and wine, click here to join my email list to get awesome recommendations.

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