Dallas: Talking Turkey with Executive Chef David Scalise

Get ready for Thanksgiving with Executive Chef David Salise.
Get ready for Thanksgiving with Executive Chef David Scalise.

Photo Credit: James McCauley

Thanksgiving is next week and if you haven’t started considering your menu you may want to think about it. We had the opportunity to chat with Executive Chef David Scalise who oversees the restaurants, banquet offerings, and pastry shop for the Hilton Anatole. We asked him for his thoughts on creating a holiday feast that the entire family would rave about and how to deal with common questions.

What to serve if there’s a vegetarian?

They key to catering to a vegetarian diet is ensuring your meat-free guests leave the meal feeling full and satisfied. I would put a strong emphasis on hearty, protein-packed grains like faro, quinoa, barley and sorghum. When complemented with fresh herbs, spices and vegetables, they pack a flavorful punch.

What are some side dishes that can be made ahead of time?

The beauty of Thanksgiving cooking is that most traditional dishes can be made ahead of time. Dishes like macaroni and cheese, sweet potato gratin, green bean casserole, even baked mashed potatoes. These can be made ahead of time and finished in the oven. Due to the density of these dishes, once they are hot they hold heat for a long time, giving you a bit more leeway on serving times.

What’s an interesting way (other than the oven) to prepare the bird?

The best way to enhance the traditional turkey is to brine the bird overnight and spatchcock it. It sounds intimidating, but it’s pretty easy. This is the best tutorial I’ve found. How to Spatchcock

How can I incorporate local ingredients?

For this, preparation is key. Visit our local farmer’s markets, and talk to the different producers. They’ll be happy to let you know which ingredients are at their peak during the holidays. Then you can write your menu to focus on regional seasonal ingredients. For the best result, use what’s fresh and be flexible. Fresh ingredients are a real difference-maker when it comes to creating memorable flavors.  We try to source locally as often as possible at the Hilton Anatole and even recently partnered with Dallas Urban Farms to install a small farm here on property so that our chefs can pick their produce straight from the vine.

More about Chef David Scalise

Exexutive Chef David Scalise of the Hilton Anatole talked with use about Thanksgiving.
Exexutive Chef David Scalise of the Hilton Anatole answered common Thanksgiving questions.

Photo Credit: Chef David Scalise/Hilton Anatole

A member of the Chaine des Rotisseurs and Societe Mondiale du Vin, Scalise began his culinary career at just fifteen years old in his native Columbia, Missouri. Prior to joining the Hilton Anatole team in February 2014, Chef Scalise served as Executive Chef of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Chef Scalise has held leadership positions at a number of prestigious properties throughout his more than thirty year career, including the four-diamond Laguna Cliffs Resort and Spa in California, The Lodge of The Four Seasons Resort and Spa in Missouri, and Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in Florida. A passionate supporter of local farmers and the growing the farm-to-fork culinary movement, he believes that great dishes are uncomplicated; crafted from fresh, seasonal ingredients. He maintains that it’s impossible to select a ‘favorite dish,’ but that you can’t go wrong with anything prepared with fresh-from-the-vine heirloom tomatoes. Chef David Scalise currently resides in Dallas, Texas with his wife Kelly.