St. Regis New York Chef on How to Have a Posh and Modern Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving turkey at the St. Regis New York
Thanksgiving turkey at the St. Regis New York

When we heard about the scrumptious new Thanksgiving menu at the St. Regis New York (and their super deluxe Thanksgiving package, which at $20,000 is probably the most expensive Turkey Day experience in town), we thought we’d sit down with the hotel’s mega talented executive chef James Ortiaga to learn more about what he’s cooked up. We also asked him to share his secrets for having an “elevated,” and more modern Thanksgiving. Keeping in mind that turkey is a sacrosanct main course in most American homes, chef Ortiaga talks instead about the starters, sides, desserts, and drinks that will make your holiday meal most memorable.

St Regis New York Executive Chef James Ortiega
St Regis New York Executive Chef James Ortiaga

For your new menu why did you decide to start the meal with a wild mushroom bisque? I really wanted to begin with earthy flavors.  I utilized a varietal of wild foraged mushrooms, which is a wonderful autumnal seasonal ingredient and one that can influence the palate. I also wanted to highlight  my favorite “Maitake” mushroom by creating a bisque.

Wild Mushroom Bisque
Wild Mushroom Bisque

What other starters would you recommend for Thanksgiving? A tomato-quinoa soup with garlic croutons, and extra virgin olive oil; toasted lemon orzo salad with marinated artichokes, olives, radicchio, kale, sundried tomatoes, and lemon-oregano dressing; organic spinach and endive salad with Gala apples, candied walnuts, gorgonzola, and white balsamic vinaigrette

Why did you include a farro grain salad on the menu? Because I wanted to provide a dish that had high nutritional value. I chose to use the fresh root vegetable kohlrabi and farro grain because I think that they are both underused in the culinary world, yet have much to offer in regard to taste and nutrition.  The addition of concentrated flavors provided by the sour cherries and golden raisins make this grain salad delicious and well balanced.

Farro salad
Farro Salad

Why are you offering a butternut squash ravioli on the menu? Isn’t there enough to eat on Thanksgiving without having pasta? I wanted to offer a substantial vegetarian option that would highlight autumnal herbs and spices.

Give us an example of a side that you are reimagining. I created the Pumpernickel pudding to have a slightly new spin on stuffing.  It contains extra dairy such as cream and eggs, allowing the pudding to have a flavor with richness and depth.

RESt. Regis - Holiday (1)
Thanksgiving Day desserts

Ideas for rethinking Thanksgiving desserts? Pumpkin and white chocolate mousse parfait, a Port wine poached pear with Marscapone gelato; a spiced apple tart tartin with white honey.

What drinks do you recommend serving on Thanksgiving? Champagne is definitely welcome on any occasion. During the first course, I recommend a Rose Champagne, one that has a red fruit character, which makes it more versatile and easier  to pair with different foods and contributes to flavor enhancement.  I would also recommend a wine with red fruity flavors to pair with turkey.

What’s your favorite Champagne? Veuve Clicqout Rose, Sanford Pinot Noir La Rinconada Vineyard 2010

Thanksgiving at the St. Regis. The hotel will be serving dinner from 12 to 7 PM. The menu will include chef Ortiaga’s Wild Bisque Soup, Farro Grain Salad, Butternut Squash Ravioli, Roasted Amish Turkey, and Pumpkin cheesecake, among many other offerings Prices begin at $145 per person.

The extra luxe factor:  For those who can afford to splurge, the St. Regis is offering what likely may be the most expensive Thanksgiving in town. For $20,000 (yes!) you, family, and griends can dine in grand style with a customized menu served in an exclusive St. Regis suite, complete with turkey carved tableside. The package includes breakfast the following morning as well as private use of the Bentley car service for Black Friday shopping.

For more information go to St. Regis New York.com

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