Holiday entertaining doesn’t have to be a headache. Take your tips from four of Philly’s finest chefs to ensure a highend feast that will leave guests talking long after New Year’s.
Sesame-crusted mozzarella with black truffle and tomato from Lacroix.
MICHAEL SYMON, ANGELINE
A large cut of meat anchors the holiday table at Michael and Liz Symon’s house, “something slow-cooked, like prime rib of a veal shank,” says the chef and cohost of The Chew, who celebrates with close friends and family, including the namesake of his suave Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa ristorante, his mother, Angel. “Slow-cooking the meat lets you focus on the side dishes and hang out with your guests while delicious smells fill the kitchen.” While Symon cooks, his business partner and wife, Liz, decorates the table. “One of my favorite ways to dress a table is to mix up the glassware,” says the restaurateur, who sources new and vintage crystal, cocktail and wine glasses—plus linens and punch bowls—from online design boutiques like Chairish and 1stdibs. “It’s a real conversation starter and does double duty to identify your glass.” One Borgata Way, Atlantic City, N.J., 609.317.1000, theborgata.com
MARCIE TURNEY, BARBUZZO
When Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran throw an open house this holiday season at their new city loft, guests will graze—as they do at the couple’s restaurants— on a small plate spread. “I like to put stations throughout the main room of the loft,” says Turney, whose table includes Garrotxa, Cana de Cabra with honeyed hazelnuts, sherry-soaked dates, olives marinated with rosemary and orange zest, turmeric-pickled cucumbers, artichoke-Pecorino dip and Spanish fennel-seed crackers. “I think this encourages guests to move around and not just collect in one area, and there is always someone at a party who is willing to help assemble some [of these kinds of ] quick hors d’oeuvres.” 110 S. 13th St., 215.546.9300, barbuzzo.com
JON CICHON, LACROIX AT THE RITTENHOUSE
The Rittenhouse leaves no nook undecked for the holidays—by Black Friday, the Christmas tree and menorah are up in the lobby, the pastry team is drawing gingerbread house blueprints designed after Philly landmarks, and Jon Cichon, executive chef of Lacroix, is planning his menu for the restaurant’s epic Christmas Day brunch. To impress your guests, Cichon, who celebrates with his family in January due to the hotel’s nonstop schedule, recommends rolling out a caviar cart stocked with “Osetra and paddlefish caviar, as well as trout roe, and all the traditional accompaniments like egg white and yolk, red onion, crème fraîche, and potato rösti.” You can make it interactive by showcasing caviars of different age, the way Cichon does at Lacroix. “The younger caviar displays a young, clean, oceanic flavor compared to a more aged caviar, which is a more earthy, robust, developed flavor.” For dessert, Cichon goes traditional with an ornate bûche de Noël—and his confectionary wizards will do the baking for you. This year, the Yule logs are available on special order in three flavors: chocolate caramel, cherry pistachio and vanilla Grand Marnier. 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, 215.546.9000, lacroixrestaurant.com
CHAD WILLIAMS, FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
Chad and Hanna Williams spend most of their time entertaining guests at Friday Saturday Sunday, the seminal Rittenhouse restaurant they resurrected and made relevant last year. So when the December holidays roll around, they split to their parents’ homes—Hanna’s for Christmas Eve, Chad’s for Christmas Day. Chad likes to batch out drinks for easy transportation. “I travel between houses with a batch of Mezcal Negronis to serve up,” says Chad. The recipe couldn’t be easier: equal parts mezcal (he likes the Ilegal brand), Campari and Punt e Mes vermouth, stirred together, bottled and chilled. While the Williams’ Christmas dinner features a rosemary-and-porcini-rubbed short rib roast, buttery potato gratin and collards stewed with bacon, Chad recommends doing a baller breakfast, too. “Last year, we were testing dishes with truffles at the restaurant; I took some of them home and made truffle omelets on Christmas morning. That’s definitely going to be repeated this year.” 261 S. 21st St., 215.546.4232, fridaysaturdaysunday.com