Professional Moves

Ready to get creative with your menu? We got some advice from two of LA’s hottest chefs.

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  • Edited by
    Bonnie Graves

Chef Richard Crespin (BALEENkitchen, Hotel Portofino) brings the ocean’s bounty.

Q: Suggestions for fish or shellfish for the holiday menu?
A: Two dishes usually make it to my own holiday menu in some incarnation. The first one is an arroz negro. This is a seafood paella that is cooked with squid ink to color the rice black. The squid ink can be used to color fresh pasta or gnocchi as well. The other dish is a bouillabaisse, a traditional seafood stew that I make with a tomato, fennel and saffron broth. For the more adventurous, consider a slow-braised beef like short rib or roast, which go very well with scallops.

Chef Tin Vuong (Abigaile, Little Sister, Día del Campo) talks turkey.

Q: Turkey can be bland and labor-intensive. Any ideas that are crowd-pleasing but innovative?  
A: Try Vietnamese-style turkey served with curried roasted chestnuts, dates, pineapple and mint! Glaze the bird with chili, lime, soy, cinnamon, anise, cloves, black cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, ginger, mace, laurel leaves and rock sugar. Stuff inside the turkey while roasting: charred onions, ginger, lime, lemongrass, scallions and butter. That leftover turkey makes a bomb-ass banh mi for a midnight snack too. Use leftover sliced turkey, mayo, sriracha, cilantro, pickles of your choice, sliced jalapeño and the essential fried egg, of course … serve on a light and crusty butter-toasted baguette. Eat in bed and enjoy.


Why not sip a little more adventurously this season? Here are some unique bottles—of rosé, gewürztraminer and sherry—that will up the ante on your holiday meal.

Deffends Rosé, Varois Provence, France 2013
Drink what the Provençal do—crisply refreshing, bone-dry pink wines that are typically blended from Rhône varietals. Rose offers a “bridge” wine between dishes that could pair with either white or red varieties. $19.95 at Woodland Hills Wine Company. 818-222-1111,

Joseph Swan Gewürztraminer, Russian River Valley, California 2012  
Poultry cries out for aromatic white wines, ones in which the fruit is typically fermented and aged without oak influences. Grapes in this category include riesling, muscat/moscato, pinot gris/pinot grigio and that great unsung hero, gewürztraminer.  $19.95 at Woodland Hills Wine Company. 818-222-1111,

Lustau Sherry, Light “Manzanilla,”  Jerez, Spain – multi-vintage blend
Fall flavors like roasted nuts, smoky bacon and earthy mushrooms complement the toasted almondine, slightly saline tang of manzanilla Sherries beautifully. $17.99 at Vendome in Studio City, 818-766-5272