We always love to see what our talented culinary teams are turning out year-round, but there’s something especially delightful about seeing our chefs infuse winter holiday classics with their own twists. Whether it’s putting their personal spin on nostalgic dishes they grew up eating, or re-creating holiday faves, there’s something about the season that places the fun and festive front and center.
At one of our tech accounts with offices around the country, the chefs have been turning up the winter vibes with juniper-spiced duck soup, arroz con leche, potato latkes, yule logs, pink praline brioche, and eggnog canelés.
Derek Weinman, senior sous-chef at the location San Francisco, remembers the smell of potatoes and onions frying in oil at Hanukkah when he was growing up. “When my mom would make them, I would just stand by the stovetop munching on them as they came out of the frying pan.”
Caroline Jacob, pastry sous-chef, has been leaning into French classics this season. Her pink praline brioche wreath starts with the pink candied almonds that are a specialty in Lyon, France. She rolls them into a brioche loaf, which she then cuts and shapes. “To make it festive and easy to share, I shaped it as a wreath,” she says. The canelés she often features as a little treat at the company’s coffee bars have also been reimagined with eggnog and nutmeg for the holidays.
Also in San Francisco, Pastry Chef Joey Martinez has been making an intensely chocolatey yule log, with flourless chocolate sponge cake, dark chocolate ganache, and chocolate buttercream. The best part? Check out those fondant gnomes!
The juniper-spiced duck soup created by Lupe Garcia, café chef, “represents winter so well,” she says. “The star anise, juniper and cinnamon give you that warm hug that you need to endure the winter elements.” Soup is kind like a hug in food form, now that we think about it.
And we love the story behind Viviana Garcia’s arroz con leche. The pastry sous-chef told us: “My abuela would make this for my brother and I for Christmas, and once we were old enough, we would join her in making it for the whole family. I have vivid memories of stirring the big pot of rice while standing on a stool in my grandma’s kitchen while the smell of cinnamon filled the house. I would stir until I got too tired, but I absolutely loved to be a taste tester! My grandma always added her special touch to the rice pudding, and to this day, she makes it for me on my birthday. It truly embraces the holiday spirit with the subtle cinnamon notes, and brightness of the condensed milk. Over the years, I have made my own variations of it, but here, I have kept true to my roots and served it exactly as my abuela would.
Happy holidays! May you all have this much fun in your kitchens!