Ever wonder how the professionals do Christmas? From money-saving hacks to making a masterpiece out of your leftovers, The Handbook asked these London chefs to share their Christmas tips and tricks for a stress-free, delicious festive feast worthy of a pro.

Here’s what they had to say…

Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Michelin-Starred Chef at Northcote

On getting creative with leftovers…

“My favourite way to use leftovers from Christmas lunch is my leftover turkey, Brussels sprout and ham turnovers. They’re super simple and can be made from everything you have left in your fridge.

Melt 20g of butter, add 100g of sprouts, a diced onion and sweat until soft. Add some crushed garlic, 60ml of cream, season and cook for four minutes before adding in a handful of diced turkey meat and ham. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry and cut into two squares, then spoon in some of the mixture and fold over – pinching the sides to ensure that you don’t have air pockets. Slash with a knife before baking at 230 degrees for five to seven minutes until golden.”

Sameer Taneja, Executive Chef at Michelin-starred Benares

On getting the spice just right…

“When cooking the Christmas turkey, I always make a spice rub with soft butter to add between the fillet and skin of the bird.

Combining spices such as onion granules, mustard seeds and garlic (along with salt and pepper) in a rub and applying underneath the skin works much, much better than rubbing spices on the outside, as it helps the spices to seep into the meat and they are less likely to burn or become bitter during roasting.”

Sofian Msetfi, Executive Chef at Ormer Mayfair by Sofian

On using clementine for flavour…

“It’s all about festive flavours over Christmas and clementine is an ingredient that enhances seasonal cooking.

I recommend adding a handful of clementine skin into your turkey to infuse the meat with a touch of sweetness.”

Vivek Singh, Executive Chef and CEO of The Cinnamon Collection

On saving money by reducing waste…

“I think using up leftovers is important and something every household could certainly do more of to reduce waste. At Christmas, I like to use left-over turkey in the ultimate Boxing Day stir-fry curry with mustard seeds, onions, curry leaves, turmeric and a tin or two of coconut milk!

Trust me, it’s the cheapest and quickest way to find yourself in Kerala on Boxing Day without having to take a flight!”

Cherish Finden, Executive Pastry Chef at Pan Pacific London

On decorating the dinner table…

“For a stress-free five-star Christmas, use simple ingredients but present them in style. Design around a theme, and choose the colours of your dishes and placemats based on the colours in your Christmas tree and decorations.

Most importantly – make sure your dessert isn’t too heavy.”

Christian Onia, Head Chef at SUMI

On smoky side dishes…

“For Christmas leftovers, most savoury items can be given a new lease of life simply with a dash of olive oil, some garlic, and a pinch of paprika. As most leftovers are already seasoned, these three ingredients work to refresh and elevate the existing flavours of a dish.

Why not try this technique with roasted carrots or leftover Brussels sprouts for a smoky vegetable side dish to go with cold leftover cuts of meat.”

Sanjay Dwivedi, Chef Patron at Meraki & Culinary Founder of COYA

On his 2022 Christmas day menu…

“First, there’ll be oysters, followed by smoked salmon tagliatelle with winter truffles. The main dish will be whole turbot and whole lobster, honey-roasted parsnips, sprouts and truffle mashed potato, and to finish will be chocolate fondant and burnt orange ice cream.

My top tip is preparation! Much of this menu will be prepared the day before, so on Christmas day, I can sip champagne and shuck oysters!

Once the pasta is cooked, I will finish with parmesan and truffle shavings. The fish will be cooked on the BBQ whilst the sides are cooked the day before and warmed in the oven.”

Fabio Ugolini, Head Chef at The Pelham

On doing Christmas the Italian way…

“I’m a big fan of baked pasta at Christmas. Whether it is cannelloni or lasagna, that’s the traditional way we celebrate in Italy, and that’s the way I grew up festive season after festive season.

From the preparation of the baking tray to that delicious smell coming from the oven once it is ready, baking pasta is a great joy to be shared with family and friends – my favourite way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year”

Natalie Coleman, Head Chef at The Oyster Shed

On the ultimate Boxing Day comfort food…

“For a perfect way to use leftover turkey (along with any remaining veg and seasoning) without too much effort, how about a hearty turkey chowder?

Simply shred the leftover turkey and combine with some stock and double cream, along with thyme, bay leaves, potatoes, onion, leek, celery and carrots, plus some crispy bacon lardons for the ultimate Boxing Day meal. Best served with a warm, crusty bread roll – this is comfort food at its finest!”

André Garret, Executive Chef at Corinthia London

On sprucing up your sprouts…

“Brussels Sprouts are a personal favourite of mine and an ingredient that people often get wrong! Start by preparing the sprouts by trimming any top leaves and trimming the stems. Add a large pinch of bicarbonate of soda to water (it raises the alkaline level and helps keep the vibrant colour – nothing worse than a yellow sprout).

Blanch these for 2-3 minutes until half cooked and drain. Rinse well with cold water to cool, and slice the sprouts. On low heat, sauté the sprouts with salted butter (must be salted to not burn as the water content is lower) until they’re a beautiful golden colour. Add chopped thyme, garlic, sage, chestnuts, dried panko breadcrumbs for texture and crispy bacon. Remember, Sprouts are forever, not just for Christmas!

Oliver Marlowe, Owner Chef Director at Ganymede

On easy Boxing Day desserts…

“More often than not, there’s always some Christmas pudding left over and the best way to use it up is to make Christmas pudding ice cream!

For best results, either make your own vanilla ice cream or use a really good shop bought one; let it defrost a little, then fold through chunks of Christmas pudding until evenly distributed. Pop the mix back in the freezer and leave to set again. Once set, top with clementine zest and a good measure of your favourite Christmas booze!”

Jonas Karlsson, Head Chef at Aquavit London

On his secret ingredient…

“My secret ingredient, particularly during the festive season, is redcurrant jelly. Whilst it makes for a delicious condiment, it also helps to elevate existing dishes in your festive feast.

For example, throw a teaspoon or two into your gravy or braised red cabbage to really lift the best flavours from these dishes. At home, my family always makes large batches of red and blackcurrant jelly to last throughout the year and it always comes into good use around Christmas time.”


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