This Christmas Alpes d’Or chocolate has sat down with some culinary concept creators and food experts to get a real sense of what the holiday season means to members of the culinary and hospitality industry. Our first interview provides insights from Tracie Daly – Catering consultant, food expert and Chef.
Tracie is an award winning entrepreneur with extensive experience in the food and education sector. Tracie has worked in Ballymaloe Cookery School as a senior culinary teacher and is also now a Chef with Ballymaloe Foods, taking part in events such as the reach virtual gift show – Cooking tips with Tracie Daly, which can be seen by clicking the link at the end of this post!
Tracie first of all, thank you very much for sitting down with the Alpes d’Or team to provide your insights into everything culinary this Christmas.
Lets dive right in to the festivities:
First Question: What is your favorite thing about Christmas in Tracie Daly – At Your Service?
I adore the use of local ingredients. Supporting local farmers and growers and educating and teaching my clients about the value and benefits of being able to support local and ensuring they understand that pricing accordingly is vital for it to be a viable and sustainable decision.
2: Do you have a culinary Christmas memory that stands out for you?
Absolutely. I remember when Mr. Fitzgerald would arrive a few days before Christmas every year with three big turkeys. One was for Christmas dinner and the other two would be frozen for family celebrations throughout the year. The relationship between farm to plate was everything. My dad knew the farmer, he knew what the turkeys were reared on and he trusted the farmer. That relationship meant we ate like Kings every Christmas.
3: Can you give us 3 tips for creating the perfect Christmas Dinner?
First- less is more. Write your list and then downsize it. Know in advance what it is you want to achieve then plan it out in advance. We tend to get carried away and can become easily panicked especially if we have not taken the time to plan it out. If you try it my way you will spend less and work less which means you have more time to spend what you have saved.
Second- serve starters and desserts that you can prep fully the day before so that it is a simple case of reheat if necessary, garnish and serve. This also frees up your hob and oven so you can focus on the main event. It relieves pressure and stress, and it allows you to delegate the service of the starters and desserts to others as you have them already prepared and you know they are up to your high standard.
Third- give everyone sitting for dinner a job. Music/ set the table/ serve starters/ clear starters/ serve mains/ clear mains/ serve desserts/ clear desserts/ make tea and coffee/ top up wine/ Christmas late night sandwiches. If you can give each hungry guest a job it not only allows them to feel useful and helpful, but it usually provides great entertainment as it can generate great chats and encourage conversation. A martyr at the Christmas table brings with it an air of discomfort, let go and create an all-inclusive dining experience. We feel great when we can give back, so it is a double win.
4: What will you be serving yourself for Christmas Dinner this year?
I have my turkey ordered from my local artisan butcher and it is from a lovely lady that is a few miles out of my city. She rears bronze turkeys that are, according to my butcher ‘the best I have seen in my 30 years’. So, you can imagine my excitement. Then we keep with the tradition every year. Turkey soup made from the neck, heart and gizzards, then Roast Stuffed Turkey, beef fat roast potatoes, glazed carrots, peas, roast carrots, mash potatoes, turkey jus and garden herb stuffing. Simplicity.
5: For the adults, do you have a recommendation for a tipple that goes well with Christmas dinner?
I usually leave that decision to my friends in Le Caveau. They are the experts and I love their recommendations. They have never steered me wrong.
On Christmas morning I do love to start my day with a Baileys coffee with fresh cream and chocolate sauce but this year I am going for salted caramel sauce as well.
6: Tell us about your typical Christmas day?
My mam will put the turkey on before anyone wakes.We will have prepped it the day before ensuring the stuffing is cold before it goes near the bird!!!
So, Christmas morning starts with a Baileys coffee, present giving. Then a delicious breakfast. Last year we had a New Orleans inspired breakfast because myself and my sister had just returned from a culinary retreat there. So, we had super buttery biscuits (scone) topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce with a side of candied crispy bacon. Then we had Mississippi Brittle that is sensational. It is like a dime bar that has a layer of milk, dark and white chocolate, topped with cranberries, pretzels and nuts. The requests have already come in for a repeat of that 😊 So, a morning of eating and listening to Christmas music. Then we will prep dinner (myself and my mam) and my sisters will set the Christmas table. We will eat for the afternoon and play games and then go for a long walk. The evening is usually very tame. We are usually all talked out and absolutely stuffed. But a great day of simple and delicious pleasures will be had.
7: What, in your opinion is the ultimate Christmas dessert?
Sherry trifle with a boozy jelly and lashings of softly whipped cream. It is delicious, and it is also different in everyone’s household. I do not think two houses make it the same. I also adore a little pot of homemade chocolate mousse with salted caramel sauce drizzled on top and a layer of pouring cream, it then becomes self-saucing, so every mouthful of deliciousness is the same
8. What are you looking forward to most this Christmas?
I have family in Canada and family in Kildare so myself and my nephew have orgainsed for the first time ever a ZOOM Family Christmas variety show where 6 kids and three adults are performing for the entire family. That will be a hoot. I am also looking forward to meeting my turkey. My original supplier has very sadly gone out of business due to COVID-19. It is awful because they did an amazing job. This year is the beginning of a new and long relationship I hope with my new turkey farmer.
9: What is your favorite Christmas dish to compliment with luxury chocolate?
I love a rich chocolate and caramel mousse. It is simplicity at its finest. The luxurious taste that is achieved by delicately whipping theegg whites to fold and lighten the incredible richness from the chocolate is breath taking. It is an eyes shut moment, where that first spoonful becomes a very magical moment indeed.
10: Can you tell us of what changes will be coming to your menu and what new culinary plans are on the horizon, for you, for 2021?
Less is more. A huge look at food waste. Seeing what customers are sending back to the kitchen and understanding the reason for it. Properly listening to customer feedback and ensuring we are not missing a beat. Looking at flavor and wow factor. It does not have to cost an arm and a leg, but it does take effort and repetition to achieve that consistency that is essential for customer satisfaction and business growth. The day of the extensive and long menu is dead. Minimise to maximise and using every scrap along the way.
Thank you very much for your comprehensive answers Tracie. We at Alpes d’Or are delighted that you could take the time out to provide us with the culinary meaning of Christmas for you. Our followers will be delighted with the insights given and we are sure that it will contribute to Christmas day in many households. Thank you Tracie and a very merry Christmas from all at Alpes d’Or