There is no better time to look to our chef Rolodex than in the run up to the holiday push. With Rosemont, Illinois-based Reinhart Foodservice boasting 26 distribution centers and services, including menu planning assistance, trends and industry insights, nutrition services support, kitchen management software, and training—this company is catering to customers from independent restaurants to delis, sporting venues, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, the military, and renowned chain accounts. But really, our concern was much more taste-related. We just had to know what gets them excited during the fall and winter holidays...
Yvette Marie Hirang
Reinhart Kansas City
“When I plan my holiday menu, I always look for fruits and vegetables I can poach and roast. The holidays are the best time to enjoy different flavors and spices and use them to enhance your roasted and poached vegetables and fruits. I love poaching pears, apples, chayote, even jicama because they absorb all the flavors you put in your poaching liquid. Spring and summer are the best times to enjoy your garden, bounty fresh. But autumn and winter, for me, is all about root vegetables, spices, and roasting. Sprinkle Asian 5-Spice on acorn squash, toss multi-colored carrots in Garam Masala and olive oil, or flavor purple and yellow cauliflower with nutmeg and rosemary. Holidays are all about how we can have fun with, and also elevate, fresh produce.”
Divisional Chef Shawano-Marquette
“Basil—if it was socially acceptable—I would wear a basil necklace. Lemon basil, Blue Spice basil, Thai basil—all that can be grown in your garden. Add Lemon basil to a spicy dish such as Shrimp with Sambal Chiles or add to a smoothie for a citrus twist. Basil is a superfood. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and an excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C.”
Division Chef KNX
“I am always about simplicity during the holidays. I like to enjoy the family, music, and the food most of all! So I usually tend to go with anything that can be done simply. With that said, roasting for me is the way to go. I love, love Brussels during that time of year, mixed with yellow bell peppers, shallots, garlic, and yes, even sweet potatoes! The mix for us is usually spot on with something smoked that we are doing. After roasting with salt and EVOO I toss this smoked onion jam on top that we thin down with an extra kick of spicy vinegar and boom! Vegetables done right at the Quick house. These are a few of my favorite things.”
Jeffrey S. Merry
Corporate Executive Chef Boston Division
“Savor fall produce and its rich earthy flavors. Warm up with a creamy potato and leek soup. Roast root vegetables with onions, potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, garlic, and sweet potatoes. Earthy herbs like sage and rosemary can really add depth to its flavor. I like to use these ingredients as a foundation for hearty dishes like goulashes and stews or let them stand alone as a vegetable-centric option. In New England, apple picking is a fall tradition, so consider incorporating those fresh-picked apples to make cobblers and crisps. Grab a gallon of local cider, add a little cinnamon and clove, and warm it up on the stove.
And you can’t relish in fall without thinking about pumpkins. Head out to the local pumpkin patch to pick out your next blank canvas for creative Halloween carving. Then, roast the pumpkin seeds in a hot cast-iron skillet, adding a little sea salt for a delicious snack. Local squashes like acorn, butternut, Hubbard, or spaghetti are great to roast, stuff, or puree and are great sides to any holiday buffet.”
Division Executive Chef
“It may be colder outside, but that doesn’t mean that you have to forego my favorite cooking method—grilling. Grilled vegetables can make any holiday table offering a truly unique experience. Cast-iron and heavy-bottom grill pans are common in kitchens and do a great job of providing that caramelized grill effect that adds visual appeal and flavor. For a twist on sweet potato mash, think grilled sweet potatoes with brown molasses butter. The flavor of Brussels sprouts, carrots, asparagus, and even green beans can be greatly enhanced by cooking in a grill pan.
Due to the high cooking heat, it is best to add sauces to vegetables when they are removed from the grill pan. Keep sauce flavors simple and appropriate. Make a roasted mushroom butter on grilled green beans, hot bacon vinaigrette on grilled Brussels sprouts, or a lemon garlic butter brushed on asparagus. Desserts can also benefit from the grill pan. Grilled slices of fresh pumpkin with cinnamon caramel sauce is a delicious crowd-pleaser.”