Fall is officially upon us. As a Chef, this is one of my favorite times of the year. The fall harvest brings an array of delicious vegetables, fruits and herbs.
Fresh offerings range from early-to-mid fall fruits like apples and cranberries to my own late fall favorites of figs, persimmons and kumquats. When it came to writing Fresh Sheet menus for my restaurants, fall was my second favorite season, following summer’s abundance.
In the fall, the food becomes a little more complex, richer and comforting. It’s fitting that it is the gateway to our holiday season, a time of family and food.
Growing up, Thanksgiving was a huge family affair on my dad’s side of the family tree. My Burleson/Howell relatives would gather, and I would see cousins, aunts, uncles and great-aunts/uncles who I often only saw once a year. We all came together to eat, watch football and eat again.
Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for the last 10 years and being an Executive Chef at a large restaurant known as a great “special event” place, I annually faced Thanksgiving Day reservations that topped 1,200. It was impossible for me to get myself and my family back to Tennessee for the festivities. The best I could do was to make my Gran’s cornbread dressing for our restaurant crew meal. Every year it was a bittersweet experience.
My wife and I created our own “family” for Thanksgiving in Seattle. Carly, Davis, Kristy, Shelby and Megan were my wife’s extended family while I worked every holiday. I am deeply grateful for their friendship and for welcoming my wife and kids into their home during the holidays.
Cooking is the deepest form of welcoming someone into your home. It doesn’t matter if it is your own recipe or one Googled, the act of cooking for your guests is deeply gratifying and brings a sense of community, friendship and love.
The recipes I will share with you today are perfect for cooking in large batches for a lot of people. Some were served every Thanksgiving to our 1,200 guests at my restaurant in Seattle. Whoever is gathered around your table this year – no matter how few – enjoy cooking for them and for yourself, and remember that soon we will all be able to enjoy more and closer time together.
Maple Roasted Root Vegetables
Kale and Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
Bacon Rosemary Butter
Brett Gardner Howell grew up in Knoxville and now lives in Seattle with his wife, Olivia, and two children. He has been an Executive Chef for the better part of his career and continues to work in culinary arts across the country. Reach out to Brett with questions or comments on Instagram @tableside_chef.