After authoring, co-authoring and ghostwriting over 100 books–including a number by celebrity chefs such as Charlie Palmer, David Burke, and Jacques Torres–Judith Choate turned to her family journal to write the cookbook she’s always wanted to write. In An American Family Cooks, Judie shares an inviting collection of time-tested “fancy, some not-so-fancy, and some just plain everyday” recipes, lovingly interwoven with fondly recalled kitchen anecdotes.
Below is an excerpt from the book’s Thanksgiving chapter, in which Judie lays out the ambitiously extravagant (3 turkeys! $500 truffles! Caviar!) family Thanksgiving dinner presented by her San Francisco-based son, wine professional and co-author, Christopher Choate.
In the years that we don’t have the West-Coast Choates home for Christmas [Judie lives in NYC], we usually go to San Francisco to celebrate Thanksgiving with them. And even some years when we do expect them back East, we pack up and head west in November anyway.
As over the top as [my other son] Mickey’s celebrations and dinners are, Chris’s traditional Thanksgivings can give them a run for the money.
Unlike anyone I know, Chris makes three turkeys: the first for a friend who does wine pairings for his customers, the second for a complete Thanksgiving dinner on the Sunday before the holiday so he will have leftovers to nosh on all week, and then the final bird for the big day. Can you imagine?
When Chris moved to California, I think he got quite homesick when the holidays rolled around, so he, just as I once did, began to make traditions of his own. What started as a small group of mostly single (I think Chris was the only married guy) young folks gathering to make a home-style Thanksgiving feast has grown into a much-anticipated all-day affair. When the event ballooned to almost a hundred, as wives, husbands, children, and in-laws slowly joined the group, the hosting house (of Doug Collister and Babs Yamanaka, Chris’s best friends) decided that it had expanded a bit too much for comfort. It has since decreased to a much more manageable head count with just a few families participating, but it is no less of a culinary adventure, which begins in the morning and continues through the evening hours.