Chef Clayton Chapman
The Grey Plume
The meal I ate during my childhood Christmas was: Traditionally, my mother would make a honey-baked ham with a variety of side dishes.
This Christmas: With my immediate family on Christmas Eve, we are doing a spread of appetizers, including barbecue brisket sandwiches, cheese, dip, soup and cookies. We wanted to take it easy and enjoy time as a family. On Christmas Day, my mother-in-law is planning a feast for the extended family. She is making turkey and all sorts of sides.
I usually spend Christmas: With my immediate family on Christmas Eve and with my in-laws on Christmas Day. We open gifts with the kids in the morning and have a great meal in the afternoon.
Chef Jon Seymour
The meal I ate during childhood Christmas was: Growing up, the usual feast consisted of overcooked turkey, dried beef and cream cheese pickle wraps, my father's cornbread casserole, chicken and noodles, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes with turkey gravy. It was fairly similar to our traditional Thanksgiving meal.
This Christmas: The smattering of food remains the same; however, I now cook the turkey. My wife and I juggle appearances at my father's, her grandfather's and her great uncle's, which luckily occurs on Christmas Eve.
I usually spend Christmas: With wife Shandy's immediate and extended family on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is shared between my father's and Shandy's grandfather's homes. Both involve a lot of eating, cooking, driving and catching up with relatives.
Chef Jessica Joyce
New York Chicken and Gyro
The meal I ate during my childhood Christmas was: Christmas Day was spent with my mother's side of the family, who immigrated to Canada from Naples, Italy, in 1895. It was tradition to have my great-grandmother prepare her homemade red sauce (which would simmer all day) and hand-rolled indented meatballs. After we finished, my grandmother and her sister would form an assembly line from the table to the kitchen sink and the plates would be passed, washed, dried and returned to the table for the main course. Our main course consisted of traditional Canadian holiday dishes, which included roast turkey, ham, tourtiere, turnip, peas, jello-fruit salad and cranberries.
If you want to include my Dad's side of the family, be prepared. Grandma Joyce (my grandmothers were always responsible for organizing functions and meals) was born in Montreal. Her parents immigrated to Canada from the Ukraine. The Joyce family Christmas took place on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) every year. Grandma loved a celebration and the house was always in full swing (eating, drinking, dancing and games). Sometime during the 1960s, Grandma and Grandpa Joyce acquired a Chinese food restaurant (Honeymoon Gardens). So every Boxing Day we would feast on takeout Chinese cuisine. After dinner, we would proudly wear Christmas crowns while watching our annual Christmas movie: "Monty Python's In Search of the Holy Grail." Boy, were we weird, and we loved it!
This Christmas: Christmas morning will be spent with my boyfriend and his family. Paul's parents create a massive brunch spread that includes homemade cinnamon rolls, cherry bars, quiche, a Belgian waffle bar and fabulous coffee. After Christmas I will fly home to spend a week with my parents and friends in Canada.
I usually spend Christmas: Looking at departure and arrival schedules. My family lives in Canada and Australia. We spend months planning who is going where and for how long. Christmas in Omaha is always food-driven, low-key and relaxing. In Australia it might be spent eating fish n' chips, enjoying the sun while tobogganing the Lancelin Sand Dunes. In Canada, it's spent trying to keep warm while visiting all of my favorite places.
Chef Kevin Shinn
Bread and Cup, Lincoln
The meal I ate during my childhood Christmas was: Ever since I can remember, we always had a traditional turkey and ham on the table for Christmas Day. I'm not sure who got together and told the whole country how to make green bean Casserole, but it was always present as well. (I must add that I've never been a big fan of it.)
This Christmas: Since we opened the restaurant, our ability to travel to see family has diminished, especially at the holidays. But it gives me and my kids a chance to try out new things (My wife hates to cook). My son loves ribs, so we will fire up the smoker on Christmas morning and fill it with pork ribs and maybe a brisket. I have all the gear and oil to fry a turkey, which we did for the first time on Thanksgiving, so we'll give that a try again. My daughter demands real mashed potatoes with no skins, so you can be sure we'll serve those too.
I usually spend Christmas: For years, until my dad died, I celebrated the majority of my Christmases at my mom and dad's little two bedroom farmhouse in northeastern Oklahoma. It wasn't until I moved to Nebraska that I saw my first white Christmas. One of my favorite Christmas memories was the year I bought all the young boys in our family a gift I put together at the hardware store. I filled a bucket with rope, tape, a hammer, nails, a flashlight, glue and other little hands-on items. After all the presents were open, the first thing the boys wanted to do was go outside and play with were those buckets. It reminded me that the gift of creativity should never be overlooked.
Chef at Rivera's Mexican Restaurant
The meal I ate during my childhood Christmas was: When I was a kid, my mother made pork tamales covered with good mole sauce.
This Christmas: My wife and I will be cooking Christmas lunch at our house for all our family. I will be cooking beef tenderloin with peppercorn sauce, shrimp cocktail, polish sausages and a lot of cookies.
I usually spend Christmas: In our house with my wife's Polish family and my Mexican family.
Chef and Owner, GUP Kitchen, Lincoln's newest mobile food truck
The meal I ate during my childhood Christmas was: Really a very traditional American meal. We had green bean casserole with the crunchy french fried onions. We usually had a roast ham with mashed potatoes and gravy. The only thing that I can remember being much different than your standard Christmas meal was lefse, a Norwegian potato wrap that resembles a tortilla. We would make lefse and then spread butter on each one and sprinkle sugar on top.
This Christmas: We will have the same classics we have always had but with all my siblings being married now and having outside influence, some of those classics have taken on a new approach. It's nice to have different cultures collide to bring about new traditions. One of the big changes for me in the last four years is being married and spending Christmas with my in-laws. There are two dishes that I know I can look forward to with this additional family. The first is my wife's favorite dish that her mother and grandmother used to make: a jello and whipped cream dessert with a crumbled pretzel crust. This dish is as tasty as it sounds and it's extra special because my wife makes it.
The other in-law addition would be Kibbie, a savory Lebanese dish of ground meat, spices and bulgar wheat. My father-in-law talks fondly of Kibbie each year and it has become a family joke that he's willing to share a little bit of it with the rest of us.
Also within the last few years my wife, daughter and I have started a tradition of having a waffle buffet on Christmas morning. We thought it would be fun to do something for just our immediate family that our kids would enjoy.
I usually spend Christmas: In South Dakota with my wife's family. I have to say that the three days I spend up there each year are some of the most relaxing. There is no work, no stress. I don't even keep my phone on me. The opposite of this is here in Lincoln when we return. My family, which includes about four times as many people and multiple toddlers, has a much-appreciated energy of fun and love that I always look forward to.
The meal I ate during my childhood Christmas was: My family's roots are in Tennessee, so my childhood Christmas reflected true southern flavors and dishes: Country ham, chicken and cornbread-sage dressing, mashed and scalloped potatoes, fried okra. Oh, fresh coconut cake with boiled custard!
This Christmas: This Christmas is unlike any other. Let's just say the holidays are busy in this industry ... Lots of parties!
I usually spend Christmas: Cooking and doing the normal things. Our family always tries to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" together.
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