Chefs At “A Tasteful Experience” Dish About Thanksgiving Favorites

For many chefs, Thanksgiving is a work day away from their home cooking for customers. Earlier this month, we found local chefs/purveyors at A Tasteful Experience who would be cooking for their own family this week. We asked them what they consider their Thanksgiving signature dish:


Pictured clockwise from top left: Sammy Rojas, Above in South Orange; Jose Velez, Toscania Trattoria; Bruce Wynn, Pleasantdale Chateau; and Juan Placencia, Costanera.

I wouldn’t say no to an invitation from Costanera’s Chef Juan Placencia. Every year he roasts a whole rack of veal, stuffed with sausage amazing herbs and Peruvian chiles.

Amanti Vino’s Chris Sevrens says his family’s tradition is to serve a Thanksgiving burrito the day after – a grilled tortilla loaded with all the traditional leftovers, then spiked with jalapeño, onions, tomatoes, sour cream! Their Thanksgiving table always has a Pinot Noir and a Riesling to accompany the bird and fixings.

Intrepid Montclair restaurateur Amy Harrigan of Toast always prepares fried Brussel sprouts and pancetta, with a caper, honey and balsamic dressing.

South Orange’s Above chef Sammy Rojas, goes back to his Portuguese roots and cooks the traditional Bacalao — roasted salted codfish — with boiled potatoes, green beans, what he calls “grandma and grandpa stuff.”

Little Falls’ Toscania Trattoria chef Jose Velez says his favorite Thanksgiving dish is his sausage cornbread bread stuffing.

Pleasantdale Chateau’s Master Pastry Chef Bruce Wynn tops off the evening with a beautiful and delicious pumpkin creme brûlée with a granulated almond tuile served in a mini pumpkin and a side of mascarpone ice cream

If you missed this year’s “A Tasteful Experience,” Clara Maass Medical Center Foundation’s signature fall fantastic food event, at the lovely and elegant Pleasantdale Chateau, wines were grouped by country (Italy, France, South America, America, Spain) at five different tables, provided by Amanti Vino.

Montclair restaurants making a good showing included Mesob, Costa Nera, Toast, Salute, Fin, Fricassee, Scala de Nonna, Escape as well as Miss Nicky’s Toffee.


Favorite bites included Costa Nera/Juan Placentia’s crusty codfish cakes with grilled octopus/chorizo/green bean salad (we went back for seconds), Scala de Nonna’s mushroom and truffle risotto, and killer pan seared ocean scallops served with butternut squash risotto and mushroom cream from Toscania Trattoria in Little Falls.

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