Hope all you foodies had a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, New Year’s etc. etc. Working in the service industry around the holidays is definitely one of the more stressful times of the year. It’s crazy busy with large parties, and not to mention amateur hour on New Year’s. Note to self, if I am ever off on December 31, I’m never coming downtown. Can you say nightmare? Anyway, this year I was fortunate to be off Christmas Eve and Day, so obviously I spend the entire time with my family. The best part about being off these days besides being able to spend it with family is clearly the amazing food and beverage. My parents are both great cooks, albeit different styles. I know I have mentioned it before, but at an early age I was introduced to food. And not the Hamburger Helper or Shake n’ Bake food. Although Shake n’ Bake on a pork chop or chicken cutlet is still pretty delicious; I digress. Growing up, my mom pretty much did all the cooking. Meatloaf, fried chicken, spaghetti, pot roast, lots of veggies; comfort food you know? Nowadays, my dad has taken over the kitchen and all that it entails. I think he loves grocery shopping more than anyone I know. When he plans a meal, he might go to Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and even Harris Teeter just to get all the correct ingredients. Mise en place I tell you. So Christmas Eve we had to start a spicy sausage bruschetta, Bolognese over tagliatelle, an Italian chopped salad, copious wine, and to top it off, a homemade Baked Alaska for dessert. Layers of cake with strawberry and pistachio ice cream, topped with a meringue, and finished in the oven until golden brown. It was freakin’ amazing; massive enough for a small country. You should have seen the knife work he did for the salad. He had little ramekins for all the individual components: julienne onions, two kinds of olives, pepperoncini, shaved parm, etc. He always mentions by the time he has finished cooking everything he’s too tired to eat it all. It’s a labor of love when my dad cooks. And it shows in the quality of the finished product. You can tell he has been prepping for three days. I’d be exhausted too. And the best part of it all? I get to be my dad’s sous chef when I am home; an awesome way for us to relate and have some father/son bonding time. And I get to sleep in my old bed from when I was a kid. Christmas Day I was in charge of grilling the three beef tenderloins. No pressure right? Just don’t overcook the meat. Easier said than done once trips were made to the wine cellar; the bar is always open as we like to say. It was a great Christmas and I was lucky enough to spend it with my crazy family. I forget how much fun we have together in the kitchen; it’s the place where we have grown to gather, share stories, and listen to my dad’s terrible jokes. And the steaks were cooked correctly btw. Cheers foodies!