A Chef’s Advice for Holiday Entertaining

by jadams

Deep Thoughts

It’s ironic that turkey–one of the most complicated, finicky things to cook–is the de facto dish at the holidays.

“If you only cook something one time per year, maybe this isn’t the time to cook it?”

— Deep Thoughts, by Robb Vices.

The holidays are stressful enough. Stick to dishes that you’re already aces at making … or ones that are traditional and fairly straightforward.

We sought out Raffaele Dall’Erta, the Executive Chef of Hamptons in Sumter, SC, to give us his tips (plus an excellent, easy recipe) for the holidays. And don’t forget, we’ve got you covered on gifting and New York Prime Beef, Melissa’s Produce and Fish Fixe have your menu items covered via delivery too!

7 Kitchen Tips for Holiday Success,

by Raffaele Dall’Erta of Hamptons in Sumter, SC


Chef Raffaele Dall’Erta of Hamptons restaurant, photo courtesy of Andrew Cebulka

Be sure to have a great holiday playlist ready to play while you cook.

  • Our Editorial Director created the Ultimate (Non-Annoying) Holiday playlist on Spotify for you here.


Don’t forget to sharpen your knives or have them done professionally to avoid shredded meat vs. neatly sliced.

  • Gordon Ramsey gives you the lowdown on this here.


Check your serving dishes; make sure you have the correct serving pieces for each dish.


Know your guests––their food allergies, vegetarians, and favorites.

  • It’s okay to ask! In fact, it’s the proper thing to do in concern to allergies and dietary restrictions. Pro Tip: Just have enough that a vegetarian could happily get full at your shin-digs.


Don’t experiment with molecular gastronomy during the holidays. Stick with the traditional.


Butter is your friend. The holidays are not the time to cook light.

  • Amen to that. We love littering a holiday table with fixx chocolates.


Remember to prep as much as you can before guests arrive, so you can enjoy the party too.

  • Again, we’d advise you to look to your friends in delivery, from Melissa’s Produce to Fish Fixe … you’ve got enough on your plate with entertaining. Let them handle bringing you all the necessities for a beautiful holiday meal.


Raffaele Dall’Erta’s  Wild Rice Salad with Currants & Pancetta

2 cups wild rice

4 cups water

1 cup pancetta

2 tbsp. maple syrup

2 cloves of garlic

2 shallots

1/4 cup currants soaked in 4 tbsp. dark rum for 1 hour; drain

½ dried cranberries

½ cup toasted pecans

3 tbsp. chopped chives

1 honey crisp apple diced

½ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning

Salt, Pepper, Sugar (to taste)



Combine rice and water, then bring to boil. Lower temperature and then cook for 30 minutes until rice is cooked. Allow to cool.

In a separate sauté pan, Sauté the pancetta until golden over medium heat. Then drizzle maple syrup over pancetta and cook for 1 minute over medium heat. Stir in garlic and shallots, mix well.

Once rice is cooled, combine the pancetta mixture and rest of ingredients.

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