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Celebrity Chef Andrew Zimmern rarely slows down. Whether he's working on his shows, Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods or The Zimmern List, or manning operations at his restaurant, Lucky Cricket in Minnesota. So he knows that when it comes to prepping for the holidays, you have to strategize best as possible.
We spoke to the four-time James Beard Award-winning chef about his tips for handling the holidays, from how to prep the perfect menu to his opinion about the best Christmas cookie. Here's what he shared with us at Departures.
What's one mistake people make too often when prepping a meal for the holidays?
"Several, but for most people who don’t cook often, they tend to take on way too much by hosting a holiday meal. If you are a person who doesn’t have enough burners on their stove, large bowls for mixing, or enough serving items for a crowd, or expertise with cooking recipes that are pretty challenging, you need to outsource items to your guests. Have someone bring pies or have each person bring their favorite side. Do anything you can to take the pressure off while you tackle the roast. There is lots of work that can be done ahead of time. My cranberries are in the freezer, and so is my gravy that I made last week. Anything you can do ahead allows for more time with your guests without being chained to the stove."
What is your favorite holiday dish?
"I’m a turkey, chestnut stuffing, and gravy guy. Period. And I need lots of leftovers to be happy."
If you decided to eat out for the holidays, instead of cooking or going to a family member’s house, where would you go?
"Chinese food and a movie. The Jewish solution for any holiday spent out of the home. Nothing beats it."
What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?
"A tie between classic sugar cookie, ginger snaps, and Russian tea cake cookies. I need all three with my coffee."