The holidays are a time for giving – but also for eating and drinking. Where would we be this time of year without the chefs, mixologists and restaurant owners who make those special dishes and drinks for us? In the spirit of the season, we decided to go a little off-menu and ask those who make our favorite Yuletide food and drinks what dishes and cocktails they like to prepare this time of year– either at home for the family, or in the kitchen for their customers.  This is what they told us…


Ingrid Gustavson, Executive Chef and Owner, Lightfoot Restaurant

My favorite thing to make is eggnog. My grandmother would serve this recipe every Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It’s light and way too easy to drink! Take two cups of liquid pasteurized eggs, two cups of dark brown sugar, half a gallon of milk, two cups of heavy cream and two cups of Half & Half.

Mix all of these ingredients together in a large container that holds at least a gallon and a half. 

Then, mix together the following in a separate container: two cups Bourbon, two cups Dark Rum, one teaspoon cinnamon, one teaspoon nutmeg, half teaspoon ground cloves and half teaspoon Allspice.

After the spices are mixed into the alcohol then add them to the egg/cream mixture.

Chill for a couple hours and serve. Cheers!


Pete Smith, Executive Chef, Market Salamander

The best thing about Christmas is my “Chef Pete braised Lamb Shank.”  It’s a beautiful dish with tender lamb shank, carrots, black garlic and red wine.

I slow braise the shanks at a light simmer for four hours until the meat is falling off the bone.

When they are finished, I garnish with roasted fingerling potatoes or Savannah Red rice. This is a dish I have featured every Christmas and New Years in my kitchen.


Tony Stafford, Owner, Ford’s Fish Shack

My favorite dish for the holidays is hard smoked salmon.

I rub down the entire side of salmon with some kosher salt, let it season the salmon for an hour and then wash the salt off and place in the smoker at 275 degrees until it’s firm to the touch.

Let it cool - if you can keep from breaking off a piece immediately! Serve with a house-made remoulade sauce. Put it on top of toasted ciabatta and it’s some good eating!


Tim Rowley, Chef, The Wine Kitchen

My favorite holiday meal is a slow roasted rib roast.  I like the versatility of a rib roast in terms of the seasonings used.  You can use a garlic heavy crust or you can do a crust that leans more herb heavy.  I personally prefer the reverse sear method.  

Start in a low oven (about 250 degrees), slow roast for a couple hours (time depends on the size of the rib roast).  

Then when the internal temperature is right around 100 degrees, I crank the oven up to 450-500 for about 20-25 minutes and get a really nice crust on the outside.  

When it has a nice crust and the internal temperature is 115, I’ll pull it and let it rest for about 30 minutes, before slicing.


Jarad Slipp, Chef, Sommelier and Owner, Knead Wine and Tremolo

The meal I have at home with family is different every year. This year it’s turkey. Turkey is usually for Thanksgiving but it can be for Christmas, too. In addition to friends and family I always include any “restaurant orphans” who aren’t able to get home to their own families. This year’s meal is dry brined Turkey Breast & Ballotine of Turkey leg confit.

I prepare three stuffings. A “Reuben” stuffing with Rye, corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss; a Kale, Shiitake and Fennel Sausage Stuffing and a Sage and Apple Cider Stuffing.

My “starter” cocktail is an Apple Cider Manhattan made with Bourbon, apple cider and homemade spice dram. There is no story behind the Manhattan – just that it’s apple season.


Josh Henderson, Chef, Bourbon Bayou Kitchen

My favorite holiday dish is Jambalaya – the perfect comfort food. The one I make is New Orleans style, which we proudly serve at Bourbon Bayou in Ashburn. What separates a New Orleans style from a traditional Jambalaya (also known as an Acadiana), is tomatoes. Tomatoes truly bring out the flavors and complete the dish.

I use blackened chicken breast, andouille sausage and shrimp.

After these are cooked I combine them with Jasmine rice and my house-made Cajun Creole sauce, which highlights the flavors and brings it all together.

Jambalaya brings me back to my childhood when we would cook whatever ingredients we had available. Those feasts were some of my fondest memories as a kid growing up cooking with my mom.