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Top Tips

During the festive season, the challenge is on to serve up richly flavourful fare – and plenty of it! How do you make your turkey the talk of the town and your mince pies memorable, in what is undoubtedly the busiest (and most stressful) time of the year?Take Stock spoke to a handful of chefs to get their top tips to help you get through the festive frenzy unscathed…

  • A teaspoon of French mustard dolloped into your cheese sauce before serving will lift the flavour, and impression, of your cauliflower cheese!
    • Steve Love, principal research chef for McCormick UK Ltd
  • For the fluffiest, tastiest mashed potato add two or three eggs mixed with double cream and nutmeg to the potato, along with fresh butter, salt, and pepper. 
    • Alex Wendling, chef at Lennox House, London
  • Marinade your goose or turkey the day before in salted water, bay leaf, honey, black pepper, calvados, and thyme. Roast it on the day you’re serving it and pan fry before service with honey, garlic, thyme, butter and a hint of nutmeg.
    • Alex Wendling, chef at Lennox House, London
  • Give your goose a subtle touch of winter spice by using a mulled wine reduction reduced to a syrup with a dash of demerara sugar, brought down to a thick pouring consistency then add sparingly. 
    • Christine Stenner, sous chef at La Vina, Sunderland
  • For care homes, getting residents involved in the kitchen’s preparation for Christmas is important. We use activity-based care to engage the residents in activities that benefit their wellbeing and fosters their interests and hobbies – and Christmas is no different. Residents will be helping to stir up the Christmas pudding mix, make and decorate the cakes and biscuits, and help prep some of the vegetables for Christmas day lunch.
    • Graham Watson, head chef at Lauder Lodge, Edinburgh
  • Why not brine your turkey the Eastern European way? The secret ingredient is using kosher salt, rather than table, cover the entire bird and leave to marinade for 36 hours before cooking. Perfect!
    • Damian Wawrzyniak, owner of House of Feasts, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
  • Switch the traditional prawn cocktail for an on-trend festive starter, ceviche.
    • Andrej Prokes, chef consultant at Nestlé Professional
  • Try to keep everything as simple as possible, don’t try and run too many menus that complicate things and gives you more prep.
    • Heath Ball, licensee at The Red Lion & Sun in Highgate, London
  • Lemon is the perfect partner for when you serve fish this Christmas. However, to create a more intense flavour than normal lemon juice, try a lemon paste.
    • Andrej Prokes, chef consultant at Nestlé Professional
  • Get ahead of the game by preparing sauces way in advance. Vacuum packing or freezing sauces not only means kitchens can be efficient in the way they prepare food, but can also ensure consistency of flavour during the busy period. 
    • Andrej Prokes, chef consultant at Nestlé Professional
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