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Last Minute Christmas Tips from the World’s Best Chefs

We’ve got some last minute Christmas tips from the world’s best chefs for you in case you’re still stuck for gift  ideas for foodie friends, are still worrying about what to cook tomorrow, and are panicking in case things go wrong in the kitchen on the day.

Over the years we’ve published tips for people like us who leave their gift-buying and Christmas Day cooking until the last minute. We’ve posted last minute Christmas tips from Australia’s best chefs, Asia’s best chefs, and food writers and editors.

This year we thought we’d reach out to some of the finest chefs around the globe, from South America to North, Asia to Europe. So here are some last minute Christmas tips from the world’s best chefs that we hope will get you out of trouble. Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

Last Minute Christmas Tips from the World’s Best Chefs

Virgilio Martinez

Central, Lima

Q. What are you cooking on Christmas Day?

A. Tortilla de patatas – I just got native potatoes from our garden – potatoes and eggs, pretty simple.

Q. What advice do you have for people still panicking about what to cook?

A. Please just chill. It is much better to stay together and be nice and relaxed, in a good mood and wonderful spirit , so…. put whatever you feel tastes good In the oven, with a good amount of butter, and just wait till your heart says it’s ready. Family and friends will appreciate it. Also serve good drinks – easy to make cocktails.

Q. Your best tips to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. Make quick, filling salads and use good seasonings. If there aren’t good ingredients… get on the phone and call a restaurant to deliver. But always stay calm and don’t lose the attention of your guests. Just be there, never leave, run or feel anxious. Nobody wants to see that. Again, make some easy cocktails!

Q. Last minute gift ideas for foodies?

A. Books, let’s save the books!

Q. Christmas at home or away?

A. At home – there are plenty days to go out. This is, for me, a very personal day for family and friends and home is always home. Make something special in your own dining room, nothing too luxurious, just something coming from you for your family.

Eneko Atxa

Azurmendi, Bilbao, London 

Q. What are you cooking on Christmas Day?

A. I’ll cook traditional Basque dishes as Kokotxas al pil-pil or Bacalao in bizkaian sauce, accompanied by our white wine Txakolina.

Q. What advice do you have for people still panicking about what to cook?

A. Don’t panic. Just cook with love, choose the recipes you know best, and take few risks.

Q. Your best tips to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. Be philosophical and open a bottle of wine whilst thinking that the most important thing is not on the plate, but around you, and that you’re lucky for having people to share these days.

Q. Last minute gift ideas for foodies?

A. Give away an experience at a restaurant.

Q. Christmas at home or away?

A. I will spend Christmas at home with my wife, children and family. Christmas is a time of moments and encounters with the family and days to enjoy their company around a table – of ingrained customs and recipes, linked to tradition, where textures and aromas penetrate our mind, arousing feelings and deep memories.

David Thompson

Nahm, Bangkok; Long Chim, Singapore, Perth, Sydney

Q. What are you cooking on Christmas Day?

A. I am cooking nothing whatsoever for Christmas. We are going to friends’ houses, for lunch and for dinner.

Q. What advice do you have for people still panicking about what to cook?

A. Do as I do, rely on the kindness of others!

Q. Your best tips to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. Open more wine.

Q. Last minute gift ideas for foodies?

A. I got all of mine in Europe on my recent trip, but if I had to, I’d snatch a decent bottle of wine from my collection. The more desperate and remiss in forgetting, the better the wine.

Q. Christmas at home or away?

A. I am having Christmas at home, in Bangkok. I travel so much, so the time here is precious.

David McMillan and Fred Morin

Joe Beef, Montreal

Q. What are you cooking on Christmas Day?

A. Traditional quebecois réveillon dinner, tourtiere, ham, sausages, beans, smoked fish, toast, drippings, tomato chow chow.

Q. What advice do you have for people still panicking about what to cook?

A. Just have fun. It’s about family, jokes, kids. Be positive and hug your kids too much. Drink a bit more than usual – hydrate!

Q. Your best tips to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. You can turn every kitchen disaster into a pretty good shepherds pie.

Q. Last minute gift ideas for foodies?

A. There’s nothing wrong with giving away fancy cheese for Christmas, right?

Q. Christmas at home or away?

A. Home! Spartacus, popcorn, and Chinese food for dinner.

Josean Alija

Nerua, Bilbao

Q. What are you cooking on Christmas Day?

A. We like to enjoy traditional dishes. I’m going to cook a fish soup, hake in green sauce, roasted lamb, and grilled eels. We will finish the meal with traditional sweets like turrons, and an elaborate goxua (a traditional basque dessert)! We will accompany the meal with ‘txakoli’, Rioja Alavesa wine and champagne until we are all in a good mood!

Q. What advice do you have for people still panicking about what to cook?

A. Be cheeky and ask someone to cook for you! Ha! Ha! No, seriously, Christmas is an opportunity to show affection to the people you love. If you know a reliable fishmonger, you can ask him to prepare good seafood and season it with easy sauces. Or even you can cook ham croquettes! You have to look for something very simple but delicious.

Q. Your best tips to save the day if it all goes wrong?

A. The best idea is to resort to great iconic products that will never fail you: salted anchovies, ‘Joselito’ ham, and a bottle of champagne, which seduce everyone!

Q. Last minute gift ideas for foodies?

A. I would give a foodie a good ham, which is a product that travels very well, or a special wine. And to sweeten the day, a panetonne! Here in Bilbao, the best thing is to buy some eels and share them with your guests.

Q. Christmas at home or away?

A. At home with my family. Christmas is a time to share affection, in which the table plays a fundamental role. I like to make my family happy with what they do not expect, but also talk to friends, over the phone, or take a snack with them to give them a hug.

If you’re in Bilbao for New Year’s Eve, Nerua has a phenomenal 15-course seafood focused menu for 240 euros.

Pictured above? Sugar Palm restaurant in Siem Reap, a fabulous spot for a feast with loved ones if you’re here in Cambodia over the holidays. Terence shot that mouthwatering spread for their new website which he designed. Merry Christmas! We’re off to buy ingredients for the Russian feast we’re going to cook up for our Christmas meal.



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