Hudson Valley Catering Services and Personal Chefs for Thanksgiving Dinner
Bring me your finest meats and cheeses! If you're looking for more time with family and less time in the kitchen this Thanksgiving, try one of these local catering and chef services. PLUS: A turkey brine recipe, courtesy of Chef Josh Kroner of Terrapin
Photograph by Gerard Malanga
For a tasty Thanksgiving-to-go, contact Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck. This is their fifth year serving to-go meals. There are two options: family-style and a la carte. For the former, just tell them how many people you want to feed, choose the vittles you want, and pay $39 per person. Or order item-by-item — a good way, say, to supplement your own bird with sides (Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, anyone?) or add the desserts (like pumpkin pie or apple tart) that you always mess up on your own.
The menu includes all the traditional choices, along with vegetarian and vegan options, as well as lamb for those who don’t like turkey. Terrapin serves about 100 meals each Thanksgiving, says Marketing Manager Christen Wagner. “Some people bring a meal to a family member in a nursing home,” Wagner says. “But mainly it’s for anyone who is just looking for a faster, easier option.” That includes owner/chef Josh Kroner. “He takes one every year for dinner at his mom’s house,” Wagner says (845-876-3330 or www.terrapinrestaurant.com/tag/thanksgiving).
If even going out to pick up dinner seems like too much work, there are many personal chefs who will come to your house and cook for you. Phyllis Segura, for instance.
Segura trained at the Apicius Cooking School of Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, Italy, and has received a James Beard Foundation scholarship. And, she says, she watched her grandmother very carefully. In 2000, she founded Cooking on the River, a personal, private-chef company specializing in fresh, healthy foods.
“There is no set menu for Thanksgiving,” she says — it depends on what your taste buds cry out for. “A personal chef comes and cooks in your home kitchen, which is different than a caterer,” she explains. “What a personal chef might cook for you depends upon your culinary and nutritional requests. A caterer will have a set menu from which to choose, and will most likely bring the food already prepared.”
Segura can prepare meals that are vegetarian; vegan; macrobiotic; kosher; grain-free; dairy-free; or suitable for blood type, diabetic, and other special diets. She uses organic, pesticide- and antibiotic-free foods and local products as much as possible.
The price varies. “A rule of thumb might be $45 or more per hour,” she says, “but I prefer to set a sum. Usually holidays cost more.” The cost of groceries, which she will shop for, is in addition to the fee. And if you’re serving dinner to more than six people, additional help might be necessary. “I would need an assistant, and the family might choose to hire a server who also does the cleanup,” she says. “There are so many variables. Actually, that is what makes the personal chef option interesting, because it is so flexible.”
Segura will also prepare some or all of your dishes in advance and leave them, with instructions, to heat up on the day. In addition, “I have started a cooking workshop called the Red Door Cooking Workshop and Library in my Spencertown home kitchen,” she mentions. “I am offering a class two days before Thanksgiving in how to make potato, zucchini, or carrot pancakes. I can imagine serving some of those on Thanksgiving” (518-392-1947 or 845-653-1145; www.cookingontheriver.com).
If you like the idea of a personal chef but not the idea of a stranger in your kitchen, consider Germantown-based Farm Table’s Private Chef “Drop-Off” meal service. Farm Table, as its name suggests, brings farm-to-table cuisine right to your oven, delivering healthy meals prepared with local, seasonal ingredients.
The two chefs behind Farm Table, Gianni Iacono and Dawn Breeze, have international cooking experience. Born and raised in Sicily, Iacono grew up eating lavish meals whipped up by several generations of family members, which became all-day cooking events. He moved to Hudson after a few years in New York City to recreate those locally sourced, hand-crafted experiences. Breeze has been a chef at a five-star restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard. Her first job, she says, took her to a private residence for a week to create meals for a vacationing family: Bill and Hillary Clinton.
For Thanksgiving, the pair designs a menu and delivers the goodies according to each client’s specifications. And then they will get out of your home, so you can enjoy the feast — and even take credit for it, if you’re that kind of person (917-353-6533; www.farmtableny.com).