For me, not working Christmas Day Dinner is virtually a non-existent thought. It has always come without saying. Sure, there have been a few years of being fortunate enough to work at a restaurant that closes, but those are outside of the norm for the most part. In the world of hotels, clubs, larger restaurants...you pretty much plan on working it. They actually do quite a bit of biz! For me at the club, we typically do about 300-350 people for this night. Not a bad night to build revenues, which I totally understand why we do it. There are thousands who do not want to be at home to cook and thus come to support all the hundreds of eateries who will stay open for such a folk. It is cool enough though as it is typically a decent and smooth night. I have worked for some though, that for some obscure reason, it is living hell, or at least can be! Chalk it up to disorganization, lack of staff, lack of thought process to make sure it is organized, lack of sufficient tools and food, poor planning and bad execution period. I am fortunate to be in a situation that if I have to work, at least we are able to do it in a great atmosphere, and with great staff and sufficient amount of team members so that we can put on a great show for our guests who come to expect a wonderful, relaxed and joyous and enjoyable environment. But, with tenure comes privilege, and this year that privilege was for me to be able to take time off with the family. Now mind you, I could probably take it off each year, but when one is totally committed to the operation and to the team, it only serves right that one participates. Last year I worked so that one of our leaders could be with his family celebrating a new family member. Way cool! So this year, I took the opportunity to cook for my family. We typically do a Christmas dinner on Xmas eve, but with the massive snow conditions and bad roads, we opted to forgo it until things get better. However, last night, I cooked for our family and another who is struggling right now. Some simple dishes for sure...nothing ground breaking...nothing elaborate...nothing complicated! Isn't that how it should be anyway??? So, first, we purchased some cool cheeses from a few places~ aged Oregon Bleu, Goat Cheese Gouda, and a nice 6-month aged Manchego. Candied Nuts, pretzels and such for nibbles. We made a creamy leek, onion and mozzarella dip for some fresh baguettes(my wife made that one). Tasty! I sauteed some shrimp, with shallots, oranges, and orange juice, finished with butter and herbs. They were ok, but due to the shrimp themselves, which I suspect they were not handled or stored right, were only marginal at best. Moving on...I glazed some young carrots with brown sugar, butter, shallots and cinnamon. Very nice. Pan roasted cauliflower with garlic, cider, curry powder and a splash of cider vinegar. This had a nice Moroccan feel to it, which in turn added a nice warmth to the meal. We put together a simple salad of romaine, cucs, baby toms and a pear-champagne vinaigrette which was concocted with things just laying around. At work, we call this the walk-in salad, or at least we used to at the Salish! Next up was the yam-pecan spoon bread. Boiled red garnet yams and whipped with butter. Then we added toasted savory nut-grain bread croutons with a glaze of maple syrup, chopped pecans, sauteed onions, garlic, Vermont maple, egg yolks and whipped egg whites. Baked to a sort of souffle-esque version of itself. I married all of this with a marinated fresh pork loin with savory middle eastern and north African spices, roasted low and slow to perfection. Enter in a touch of some Trader Joes chutney on the side...fab! Lastly, I put together a bread pudding made with fuji apples, "butterflake" rolls, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, and a basic custard, baked slow to done and sprinkled sugar on top to add a unique "crust" on top. A little whipped cream and it's all good! All in all, I was glad to be at home, and all of my team cooking for our guests were in my heart. I am sure they all would rather be at home with their loved ones and family. Thank you team for this opportunity, both past and present, you are the best!... Merry Christmas.