17 Top Chefs Share Their Christmas Cooking Tips: Part 1 | sheerluxe.com
Whether you’re a stuffing novice or seasoned Christmas dinner prepper, it’s always great to have some expert advice to hand. We asked the head chefs at some of the UK’s very best restaurants to don their Christmas hats and reveal their top tips for tackling the turkey, sorting out sides and – most importantly – creating the best-ever roast potatoes…
Favourites 23

George Barsons, Kitty Fisher's & Cora Pearl

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé?
I really love something classic like devils on horseback or devilled eggs – a bit old school but they’ve stood the test of time for a reason!

The ultimate starter?
Smoked salmon on thinly sliced, thickly buttered brown bread. Top it with freshly grated horseradish stirred through crème fraiche and serve with plenty of wedges of lemon.

What are your turkey tips?
Rub it in plenty of butter and put loads of herbs in the cavity and roasting tray. Make sure it’s at room temperature before cooking. Most importantly, don’t overcook it! I think people get particularly paranoid about undercooking it as it’s so big and you only cook it once a year. Once it’s ready, rest it for at least an hour.

Sides suggestions?
I love braised red cabbage with apple, vinegar and spices; and roasted celeriac with hazelnuts and brown butter. 

Best Christmas pudding alternative?
My auntie does a kind of ice-cream bomb which I usually eat with the Christmas pud but it’s great on its own. It’s custard with whipped cream folded in and orange zest, brandy and cinnamon, with the odd meringue piece and stem ginger chunk. You freeze it then turn it out half an hour before serving. 

What’s your one top tip for nailing Christmas dinner?
Don’t try and do too many sides. Just keep it simple with some great potatoes and a couple of veggies. And bread sauce. Bread sauce is essential!

Adrian Martin, Simpsons-In-The-Strand 

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé? 
I love a crackling choux bun filled with chestnuts, dried lingonberries and goats curd.
 
What is the ultimate starter? 
My favourite festive starter has to be twice-baked goats cheese soufflé with caramelised smoked shallots and grain mustard jus.

 

What are your turkey tips? 
Pre-heat oven to 220°C. Always remove the wishbone, season well and rub with plenty of butter. Place in the oven on one leg for 30 minutes and then roll onto the other leg for a further 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 200°C. Finally rest on its back to finish cooking and colour to a golden brown all over. Leave out of the oven to rest for approximately 30 minutes to rest (but this can be for up to one-two hours). Place back in the oven for 15 mins to heat up the outside just before serving.
 
Do you have any suggestions for sides? 
I love shredded brussels sprouts cooked in a little cream with crispy bacon; braised red cabbage with cinnamon and orange zest; or honey and butter roast parsnips.

Charlie Carroll, Flatiron 

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé? 
I’ve just treated myself to a shoulder of Joselito acorn fed Iberico ham, amazing stuff! So definitely something with that.

The ultimate starter? 
I love simple, wonderful ingredients. I have some fresh creel caught Scottish langoustines on my table for Christmas. Cold with homemade mayonnaise; much better than lobster.

What are your turkey tips? 
Brining is essential if you’re going to try and cook the breasts and legs together, and as ever success is all down to finding the best, most carefully reared meat you can afford. There are some amazing small producers out there now. 
 
Any great sides suggestions? 
Chestnuts, sprouts and pancetta with a touch of maple syrup. 
 

How do you make the best gravy? 
It all starts with the best stock. I make a chicken stock from a tray of roasted chicken wings and then add that instead of potato or cabbage water. You also need to make sure it’s seasoned right. 

Best Christmas pudding alternative? 
I love old school puddings, so trifle or even Queen of Puddings; if you haven’t had it it’s a bit like bread-and-butter pudding topped with jam and then meringue.

Francesco Mazzei, Fiume

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé?
Smoked salmon isn’t really a thing in Italy, but ever since I’ve lived in England, I’ve fallen in love with it. One of my favourite Christmas canapés is to combine smoked salmon with a traditional southern Italian dish, known as gatto. You mix mashed potato with smoked salmon, mozzarella, grana padano and chives. Place it into little tins/pots and bake in the oven, then top it with more smoked salmon and serve with wedges of lemon.
 
The ultimate starter? 
I love a bitter leaf salad with orange and burrata. Radicchio, endive and all of those colourful bitter leaves are perfectly in season in the winter. I make a dressing with mosto cotto, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, orange zest, salt and pepper. Break segments of the oranges and pieces of burrata over the top of the leaves, dress with the beautiful dressing, and top with a sprinkling of roasted and crushed walnuts or pistachios.
 

What are your turkey tips? 
I always use the small Tacchinella turkey. It has a great flavour and is the perfect size for me, my wife and kids on Christmas Day (with enough for leftovers!). For me the stuffing is key, and I use a mixture of Tuscan sausage, chestnuts and bread soaked in milk and brandy. Then inside the turkey I place lemon, bay leaves, juniper, rosemary and garlic. I then season the skin generously with salt and pepper, rub it all over with garlic butter, cover and place in the fridge until the butter sets up. When ready, I remove it from the fridge, leave it to rest for half an hour or so, then place in the oven, preheated to 175°C, for approximately two hours. Halfway through the cooking time, I will pour a good dash of white wine over the turkey, so that it all mixes with the cooking juices and forms the base for a sauce in the bottom of the pan.

How do you make the ultimate roast potatoes?  
I follow the British rules. Blanch the potatoes, then cool completely and chill or even freeze. Get some duck fat really hot in a big oven tray and add the chilled potatoes along with garlic, rosemary and thyme. Roast on high temperature for about 40 mins, remove from the oven, pour off any excess oil, and season with salt. Leave them to cool again, then before you’re ready to serve, pop back in the oven on a slightly lower temperature and cook until piping hot, golden and crispy. The chilling and recooking processes keep them perfectly moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. It also means you can do all bar the last step well ahead of time, so you can stay organised on the big day. 
 
Any great sides suggestions?  
I love the British tradition of a Christmas turkey roast, but sprouts are one step too far, so its cavolo nero [Lacinato kale] for us! Alternatively, for a little Christmas luxury, you can’t beat zucchini fritti with freshly shaved truffle. The heat from the zucchini rises through the truffles and all of the beautiful aromas are released. 
 
How do you make the best gravy?
For turkey, I make a sauce with the juices from the pan, a little flour and stock or water. I also add the garlic, lemon and herbs from the turkey to the sauce while it’s thickening – they add a great extra kick of flavour.
 
Best Christmas pudding alternative?  
For us Italians, it has to be panettone. One of my favourites is to slice and lightly toast it in oven, then serve with vanilla ice-cream and your choice of sauce – perhaps chocolate and Grand Marnier, an English brandy sauce, or a crème anglaise with marsala.
 
What’s your one top tip for nailing Christmas dinner?  
Get the best food and drink and surround yourself with family and friends – it’s important to remember how lucky you are, and not to get stressed over the little details.
 

Judy Joo, Jinjuu 

What’s your ultimate starter? 
Seafood is always a good bet. Jumbo prawn cocktail with a selection of dipping sauces: soy vinaigrette, American cocktail sauce, and mustard aioli.
 
How do you make the ultimate roast potatoes?   
Use duck fat and butter, and a lot of fresh herbs. Also, flavour the boiling water well with a bouillon cube and salt. The better this water tastes, the better your potatoes will taste.
 
How do you make the best gravy
Use an American product called ‘Wondra Flour’, and a splash of soy sauce— this adds colour and deep complex flavour. You’ll be converted.
 

Best Christmas pudding alternatives?   
Fresh berry Eton mess or pavlova are great classic choices. Cheesecake topped with mince pie mix and Chantilly cream is also great.
 
What’s your one top tip for nailing the Christmas dinner? 
Make sure you have a lot of booze, and prep as much as you can in the days before. Preparation and organisation is key.  

Ollie Templeton, Carousel

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé?
Chipolatas with wholegrain mustard and tabasco.

The ultimate starter?
Buttered bread, lemon wedges and a plate full of Skipness Smoke House smoked salmon.

What are your turkey tips?
Brine in loads of herbs and spices, then bathe it in fats, butter, goose fat, pork fat. Cook low and slow.

 

How do you make the ultimate roast potatoes? 
Bake whole potatoes at 180°C until cooked, break up with your hands, re-roast in smoked brown butter, then deep fry in duck or goose fat.

Any great sides suggestions?
Blistered brussels sprout tops and XO cubes. 

Best Christmas pudding alternative?
Loads of cheese followed by something like Jaffa cakes.

What’s your one top tip for nailing Christmas dinner?
Eat late-ish, like 5-6pm, so you aren't under loads of pressure. Oh and delegate – your parents/grandparents/brothers absolutely love peeling spuds, onions, garlic etc. 

Steve Smith, Bohemia 

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé?  
Smoked salmon with pickled fennel and apple.
 
What is the ultimate starter?  
Personally, I wouldn’t bother with a starter as I’d rather have some cheese later in the afternoon, but if you’re going to serve one, go for a prawn Caesar salad. 
 
What are your turkey tips? 
Spending that little extra on an organic or free-range turkey is certainly worth it. Not only is it ethically sourced, it will also have better nutritional benefits and deliver on flavour. Wash and thoroughly dry the cavity of the bird before leaving it to reach room temperature. Putting a moderate amount of softened butter under the skin of the bird will ensure it remains moist. Finally, truss the legs together so it retains its shape throughout cooking. Follow these simple steps, and you will have an absolute showstopper of a turkey.
 

Any great sides suggestions?  
Mustard carrots, cabbage and bacon, parsnips, creamed kale – the veg is always better than the turkey. The turkey is worst part of Christmas Day!
 
How do you make the best gravy?  
Don’t dispose of the caramelised juices left behind by the turkey as they make the perfect base for the gravy. Adding madeira, a tablespoon of plain flour and quality stock to it will make your gravy rich and delicious.

Pascal Wiedemann, Pompette, Oxford 

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé?  
A tray of homemade sausage rolls goes down a storm mid-afternoon on the big day.
 
How do you make the ultimate roast potatoes?  
Par boil the potatoes in salted water until you are slightly fearful they are ruined. Drain and then spread out on a tray to dry out and cool. Then roast in plenty of duck fat until golden and crisp. Avoid the temptation to cook too many, it will only hold things up during the hectic final hour before eating.
 

Any great sides suggestions?  
As boring as it sounds keep the sides as simple and plain as possible, there is plenty of richness and naughtiness going on with everything else.
 
How do you make the best gravy?  
Pre-make a brown chicken stock with plenty of roasted chicken wings, vegetables and a splash of wine. This can be done weeks in advance and kept in the freezer. While the turkey is resting (leave for at least an hour) add the roasting juices to the stock and then make the gravy in a traditional way.

Best Christmas pudding alternative?  
Sherry trifle.
 
What’s your one top tip for nailing Christmas dinner?  
Wash up as you go (or ask someone else to).

Ben Tish, The Game Bird 

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé?  
Devilled eggs. Very old school but I love them. Boil eggs for eight minutes, cool, peel and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks, blend with mayonnaise, smoked paprika, a splash of cream, Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of chilli powder until smooth. Pipe this mix back into the egg white cavity with a star nozzle to get that retro look.
 
The ultimate starter?  
A deluxe prawn cocktail – don’t skimp on plenty of quality prawns! Make a homemade Marie Rose sauce, then add cucumber, tomato and lettuce and top with a spoon of caviar. Serve with toasted buttered brioche and make ahead of time for ease.
 

What are your turkey tips? 
Buy a quality bronze turkey – it’s imperative. Cook the legs separately to the crown, as the legs need longer and slower cooking. I brine my turkey overnight in a solution of 10% salt to a litre of water with spices and herbs. It adds extra flavour and also make the meat more succulent and juicy.
 
How do you make the best gravy?  
Scrape the roasting pan, then add plenty of red wine and reduce to a glaze. Pour in a good chicken or turkey stock, whisk in a little flour mixed with butter and simmer until thickened. I also whisk in a spoon of cranberry jelly before serving.

Best Christmas pudding alternative?  
Affogato with a shot of Pedro Ximinez sherry as a chaser.
 
What’s your one top tip for nailing Christmas dinner?  
Make the starter and dessert the day before. For the main course, get all prep ready first thing and then you can relax and enjoy the day – it’s all about the prep.
 

Tom De Keyser, The Coach, Marlow 

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé? 
When the family is together its always traditional smoked salmon blini. More recently, with the addition of caviar.

The ultimate starter? 
Scrambled eggs on toast with white truffle.

How do you make the ultimate roast potatoes?  
The best roast potatoes are crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. To achieve this, I would boil the potatoes, then make a paste by mashing two potatoes together and adding a bit of water. Roll the boiled potatoes through this mix, adding a rough layer, then roast.
 
 

Sides suggestions? 
My total favourite would be honey-glazed parsnips, but I do love my brother’s very rogue celery, walnut and I-don’t-know-what stuffing.
 
How do you make the best gravy?  
Make sure you get loads of colour on your bones and vegetables for making your stock. Always finish it with roasting juices from your turkey. Fat and colour equals flavour. 
 
Best Christmas pudding alternative?  
Mum’s ‘Crunchie Pudding’. Which is whipped cream, and smashed up Crunchie chocolate bars, topped with grated milk chocolate.
 
What’s your one top tip for nailing Christmas dinner? 
Wear a Santa hat while cooking.

Kian Samyani, Berenjak 

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé? 
Prawn cocktail lettuce cups. 
 
What’s your ultimate starter?  
Chicken liver parfait, pickles and toasted sourdough mix. 
 
What are you turkey tips? 
I usually buy a whole turkey, cut the legs off, braise and use the meat for a Boxing Day pie. I’ll brine and roast the crown for Christmas dinner. 
 
How do you make the ultimate roast potatoes? 
I cheat and deep fry them then toss with a roasted garlic dressing. I’ll parboil potatoes, then fry once at 150°C till sealed and fully cooked, then when needed I’ll fry them again at 180°C till crisp. 
 

Do you have any sides suggestions? 
The tops of brussels sprouts are my favourite green at Christmas, dressed with a really good sherry vinegar and salt once either steamed or boiled. 
 
Best Christmas pudding alternatives? 
Trifle – get a bargain ornamental second-hand stemmed trifle bowl from eBay and just go crazy with it. 
 
How do you make the best gravy? 
My go-to gravy is made from chicken wings. I sauté shallots and carrots then add peppercorns, bay leaves and juniper berries then add madeira and reduce by half. Then I add my roasted chicken wings to fill the pot and cover with pre-made chicken stock. I simmer slowly for three-four hours then drain and return to the heat and reduce till I get my desired thickness. This is always done two or three days before Christmas dinner and it’s key to brown off your chicken wings properly in your oven. 
 
What’s your one top tip for nailing the Christmas dinner? 
Less is more. Do one or two (red and white) types of meat depending on how many of you there are and don’t go crazy with sides: do around five, but do them well. 

Meriel Armitage, Club Mexicana 

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé?  
Devils on horseback, vegan style. There are loads of great vegan bacon available now and my favourite is Sgaia. It's such a simple dish, but always tastes like Christmas to me. I also love making mini empanadas with a salsa verde dipping sauce. I make them with puff pastry and fill them with any Club Mexicana fillings I have on hand, 'chorizo' and potato is a good combo! 
 
The ultimate starter? 
Chilli lime tortilla soup. It's basically a tomato broth with loads of chilli and lime juice in it, then topped with some toasted tortillas for crunch and some sour cream and coriander. It should be really punchy and get your taste buds going for the meal to follow. It's easy to make it looks pretty too, but the best bit is that no one expect such a flavour hit from a bowl of soup! 

What are your vegan ‘turkey' tips?  
It's all about the herbs. You can make vegan turkey from tofu or seitan (Google is your friend), but make sure that you season it properly with herbs that make you think of Christmas. For me, sage, rosemary and thyme are the key players, but everyone has their childhood flavour memories, so go with that. 

Any great sides suggestions?  
Stuffing is a big thing for me, my favourite is lemon and rosemary. I love roasted brussels sprouts, cut in half and make extra effort to get some of the outer leaves to fall off so they go really crispy. Cranberry sauce is a great side too, and naturally vegan. Try spicing it up with a pinch of chilli!  
 
How do you make the best gravy?  
Vegan gravy is harder than regular gravy as you have to create your own flavour. Personally, I love making it because it's my favourite type of cooking; tasting and adjusting over and over! And you can do a bit of a 'project use up' in your kitchen cupboard. Make a roux with vegan margarine and flour (the more of this you make will determine the thickness), then add any of the following: soy sauce, bouillon, tomato puree, red wine (lots), balsamic vinegar and mustard (Dijon or wholegrain). You can always add something like miso or marmite to give it that umami flavour. 
 
Best Christmas pudding alternative?  
Sticky toffee pudding is delicious and really easy to make vegan. There's so much vegan vanilla ice-cream in every supermarket now.

Margot Henderson, Rochelle Canteen 

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé? 
I would go for either pumpkin arancini; smoked mackerel pate on toast with pickles; or devils on horseback.

What are your turkey tips? 
Brine overnight then fill with pork with apple and chestnut stuffing but make sure the stuffing is nice and wet. Slide lots of butter under the skin and cook very slowly. Once brown, cover in foil and leave to rest for an hour. Make your bread sauce with chicken stock, and finish with bone marrow and loads of black pepper.
 

How do you make the ultimate roast potatoes?  
Use a fluffy potato like Maris Piper or Yukon Gold. To start, peel the potatoes and cut in halves or happy chunks, then boil them in salty water until half cooked, then scrape the sides with a fork to rough them up. Next, roast in goose fat and Maldon sea salt at a high heat, ideally without the turkey, as the turkey will produce steam in the oven.
 
How do you make the best gravy? 
I like to make a relatively light gravy to celebrate the juices of the bird but you can always thicken with a tablespoon of flour before you add the wine. Save the giblets from the turkey and cover them in chicken stock, a bundle of herbs, a stick of celery, carrots and half a peeled onion and then simmer for an hour or so. Take the turkey out of the pan if you can, pour off all the extra fat then pour in a ladle of stock and stir well. Add a glass or two of white wine and reduce. Finally, pour in a pint or two of stock and reduce by a third, skimming all the time. Season and pour into jugs.
 
Best Christmas pudding alternative?  
There is no alternative! Buy the St John steamed pudding, it’s fantastic and serve with masses of cold brandy butter. Otherwise apple and calvados trifle is always a winner, or panettone bread-and-butter pudding.

Masha Rener, Lina Stores 

The ultimate starter? 
Stuffed artichokes with breadcrumbs, parsley and chopped artichoke stems topped with Pecorino Romano and capers. Assemble together and steam in a pot for about 40 minutes for the perfect consistency.
 
What are your turkey tips? 
One of my favourite recipes is turkey meatballs with mint and burrata stracciatella (the soft central part of a burrata). Use leftover turkey from your Christmas roast, mince the meat and mix it with parmigiano, egg, breadcrumbs, milk and mint. Roll up the meatballs and deep-fry them. Serve with the burrata stracciatella and fresh mint leaves.
 

How do you make the ultimate roast potatoes? 
The best roast potatoes are ones roasted straight in the fireplace! Wash and roll the potatoes in foil and cook them for 45 minutes in fireplace ash. Serve with butter and truffle.
 
How do you make the best gravy? 
The best gravy is without a doubt pearà, a traditional gravy from Verona made from leftover bread, stock and marrow. It’s rich in flavour and complements boiled meats perfectly!
 
Best Christmas pudding alternative? 
Cassata mousse, a typical Sicilian pudding made with ricotta and candied fruit served with a toasted pandoro!
 

Shaun Rowlands, St Pancras Brasserie & Helix Restaurant at the Gherkin

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé?
Chicken liver parfait en croute, with red onion chutney.

The ultimate starter?
Twice-baked smoked haddock soufflé with mussel sauce.

What are your turkey tips?
To speed things up on Christmas Day and keep turkey moist, get your butcher to cut the legs off then remove back bone, keeping the breast together on the breast plate. Get him to bone out the legs and remove any sinew. Keep the bones for gravy.

Any great sides suggestions?
Buttered sprouts or winter greens; honey-roast carrots and parsnips; pigs in blankets and cranberry compote.

How do you make the best gravy?
Do not pass through a sieve. You want all the bits for flavour and consistency.

Best Christmas pudding alternative?
Anything with chocolate bits, chocolate sauce and ice-cream, eaten well after the main course so you can enjoy more.

What’s your one top tip for nailing Christmas dinner?
When the drinks are chilled, put them all outside your back door (they should be cold enough) to clear fridge space. Any extra drinks that need chilling on the day put into freezer to speed up and then put outside. Clear the kitchen of all clutter so you have plenty of space, even move toasters, kettles, everything you don’t need. On the day, if you can, set up a collapsible table to plate up/prep for extra space; make a clear area for dirty pots and pans – there will be loads. Pick on family members as soon as they arrive to clear up later, as you did all the cooking.

 

Tom Booton, Alyn Williams at The Westbury

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé?
A mini Yorkshire pudding, filled with beef and creamed horseradish, alongside a glass of champagne of course!

What are your turkey tips?
Brine the turkey the night before, and put nice aromatics in there – pink peppercorns, dried cranberries, sage.

How do you make the ultimate roast potatoes?
Blanch until they’re about to fall apart, drain and then let them steam out in the drainer. Give them a little shake to get them fluffy around the edges. Have a really hot tray with loads of oil or goose fat (more than you think) then add the potatoes in and put straight in the oven for 40 minutes. Start the temperature high, then go lower. This makes them double crispy!

Any great sides suggestions?
The best side is pigs in blankets. Loads of them.

Best Christmas pudding alternative?
A properly boozy trifle.

How do you make the best gravy?
Don’t be afraid to make the sauce the day before, then finish it with the fresh turkey fat right at the last minute.

Steve Drake, Sorrel

What’s your go-to Christmas canapé? 
Smoked duck with horseradish cream.

The ultimate starter? 
Cured fish – it’s light and refreshing.

What are your turkey tips? 
Don’t overcook it! And turn it upside down near the end to allow the juices to flow out

Any great sides suggestions?
Stuffing flavoured with rosemary and pear.

Best Christmas pudding alternative?
A classic tarte tatin with vanilla ice-cream.

What’s your one top tip for nailing Christmas dinner? 
Work backwards! Prepare your pudding first, then the main and lastly the starter which will remove all the stress and anxiety.

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at info@sheerluxe.com.

You are not seeing this website as it was intended. Please try loading it in an up to date web browser.