What 5 Food World Parents Are Making This Thanksgiving
Ever wonder what The Granola King and other food world favorites cook up for Thanksgiving? Same. Leah Bhabha finds out how five families are incorporating their traditions, values, and kids into the holiday mix this season.
- Written By
- Leah Bhabha
- Anna Lena Feunekes
Though it ups the messiness factor and often prolongs the actual preparation, bringing kids into the kitchen can be a terrific bonding activity. Cooking with little ones heightens their sensory awareness and helps with motor skill development. Depending on the child’s age, tasks can be dialed up or down in difficulty. Asking kids to help in the kitchen also gives them a sense of ownership and, during a holiday as foodcentric as Thanksgiving, they’ll feel deep pride when the dishes they worked on arrive at the table. For young ones who aren’t quite at the cooking or prepping stage, trying the various foods on the table is a great way to introduce them to family food traditions and share stories about relatives.
Food is also a useful entry point for explaining to children the real history of Thanksgiving, which differs significantly from what many of us learned in school. They can start to tangibly consider what cultural traditions mean, reinforcing the importance of embracing different people and heritages. Here, five parents in the food world on how they plan to share traditions with their children this Thanksgiving.
Erika Chou, partner at Rivers and Hills Hospitality Group
“This year is a very special Thanksgiving, because my son Ezzy (28 months) will be meeting, for the first time, his paternal grandparents who are from Hong Kong! It will also be their first American Thanksgiving, so we plan on doing it up traditionally with a roast turkey and honey ham, corn pudding, green bean casserole, cranberries, and the works. The "kids" are always in charge of the desserts so it will be a lot of fun to have Ezzy add his skills to the group—he is an expert at mixing, wiping, vacuuming, and throwing away garbage. Another Thanksgiving weekend tradition we always look forward to is hosting a huge Chinese hot pot gathering with an elaborate sauce buffet. It will be so much fun letting him experiment and create his own sauce and teaching him how to carefully dip things into the hot pot.”
Tom Bannister, founder of Tom’s Perfect 10
"Our biggest tradition—outside of the usual traditions—is Chinese sticky-rice instead of stuffing. My mother-in-law uses sticky rice, mushrooms, onions, scallions and pieces of Chinese sausage to concoct this delicious stuffing replacement. The best part is that our slightly picky-eater-children Ren (7), Tao (5) and River (1.5) all love it as well. Like all stuffing—it’s even better the next day!"
Derek Wallace, CEO and founder of Kalamata’s Kitchen
“I think Thanksgiving is such a great time to create new memories as a family that we’ll have forever, and food naturally lives at the center of that experience. Our menu never looks the same because we love using the time we have together to explore new dishes that we’ve never tried before. My son Henry absolutely loves carbonara, so this year one of our dishes is going to be a kimchi carbonara recipe we found by Melanie Hye Jin Meyer."
Anna Gordon, chef and founder of The Good Batch
“When the leaves start changing every season, I wish I could pause the calendar and just live in the bright, bursting autumn palette. As a way to prolong the colors, I make leaf wreaths with my daughters. We start by taking a long walk in the woods with a paper bag, and collect (and identify!) as many colors and shapes as we can find. Back home, I’ll set them up with a cardboard wreath (cut out from shipping boxes), a glue gun, and all the leaves. Lovely finishing touches can be with wildflowers, seed pods, acorns or pinecones. With a hole punch and string, the finished wreath can be hung inside or outside.”
“Making apple crisp will always make me think of my late mother. She made it regularly every fall with apples from our local orchard in Maryland, where I grew up. It’s the easiest dessert to whip up when you have your favorite apples in stock. Your home will smell like cozy autumnal heaven when it comes out of the oven!”
Cecily McAndrews, food writer
“Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, and I'm so excited to share it with Augie, my 11-month-old baby. My family is hugely into cooking; we start circulating recipes a month in advance, and dish ideas are hotly debated, but a few things show up year after year. The stuffing is non-negotiable--we make one with apples, sausage, and herbs, and I'm so excited to give some to Augie. I have historically been in charge of pies. I can't wait for him to try pumpkin pie, though I might have to make a special treat for him (poor guy is allergic to eggs). Last year Thanksgiving was the last holiday we had before he was born, so it feels like completing (actually, starting) a cycle. Lord knows I am incredibly grateful for him.”
Leah is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and copywriter. She focuses on a number of topics including food, travel, style, and motherhood and writes for publications like Vogue, New York Magazine, and HTSI. She has a one-year-old daughter, Matilda, and a miniature dachshund, Strudel, both of whom are as food obsessed as their mother. Read more of her work here.