What's Your Biggest Holiday Cooking Screw-Up (And How Did You Fix It)?

Categories: Bites & Dishes

Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com. Miss a question? Go here.

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© Aaron DuRall
Holiday cooking catastrophes are nothing new, but when you're in the restaurant business, they can be doubly disastrous.

See also: - Chefs, What's on Your Holiday Wish List This Year? and What's Your Most Horrifying Kitchen Accident Story?

This week, Valley chefs and restaurateurs share their holiday cooking horror stories and let us know how they recovered from them.

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Chef Taylor Domet, North, Kierland

Five years ago, I was working at a resort restaurant and let my executive chef help me with a Christmas event -- a plated dinner for 120 people. He said, "I'll take care of the chickens." Ten minutes before plating, he left for the night and I assumed he did what he said. The first five plates we sent out came back with undercooked chicken. It was almost a disaster. We managed to bring the chickens up to temperature and execute by the skin of our teeth! Lesson: Always double-check your misé en placé -- even if the executive chef prepped it himself!

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Silvana Salcido Esparza,
Chef and Owner, Barrio Cafe and Barrio Queen

My biggest cooking screw-up was Christmas 1991. I was starting a new catering project, and it was my first paying gig. My staff was on site, but I got stuck at a train crossing and I had the food. I got there 15 minutes late and the host had already ordered Domino's. My staff and I went home, with hundreds of dollars worth of shrimp and finger foods, and had our own party. The following day, I signed up for culinary school in Scottsdale. To this day, I have a phobia about being late for catered events.

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Chef Michael Racioppi,
Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel

This year we brined the turkey in Dr Pepper, black sea salt, and brown sugar, resulting in a purple turkey. Yikes! We fixed the turkey by adding extra gravy to disguise the blooper.

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Chef Chris Mayo,
North Fattoria Italiana

The first time I cooked a holiday dinner for my family, I tried to replicate my grandmother's sweet potato and apples dish. It never came out right and I ended up making three separate trips to the grocery store to buy more stuff. Finally, I gave up and had my mom come over early to walk me through it.


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