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Chefs' Tips: How to create a unique Christmas menu

01/01/2023

With the silly season drawing in, it’s time to start planning your Christmas menu. This year, try and move beyond turkey, ham and pudding to create something a little more creative and unique for your guests. Shannon Martinez, chef-proprietor at Melbourne’s pioneering plant-based stalwarts Smith & Deli and Smith & Daughters, and Richard Ptacnik, head chef of Sydney’s Otto, share their tips for spicing up your Christmas menu.

Shannon Martinez

Research

Sit down with your cookbooks and flick through the pages with a glass of wine and start thinking about what you want to create, as well as the style of the menu.

Get creative with plant-based sides

Focus on the dishes around your centrepiece. At this time of year, I love tomatoes as they’re in season. I’d suggest a salad with ultra-ripe tomatoes (have some fun and cut these organically) and char-grilled nectarines. When tossing them together, the heat from the nectarines will release the gorgeous tomato juices. Finish with a good squeeze of lemon, or sherry vinegar – this is phenomenal. There’s also the option to add on vegan feta and some caper berries.

Otto Ristorante

Add a subtle spin to classics

Australian seafood at Christmas time is a must – I find it hard to go without a beautiful lobster grilled over hot coals and finished with a touch of butter. I like to keep it simple and find the flavour from the wood embers imparts just a touch of smoke to the lobster, which really enhances the dish.

Embrace your heritage

A long-held Christmas lunch tradition in my family are crab rolls. They are light, and simply delicious. Adorning crab rolls with caviar takes the dish to the next level for me – the saltiness and subtle flavours from the caviar on top of the sweet crab meat I use in my rolls is truly a match made in heaven.

 



 

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