Food Network Stars' Thanksgiving Traditions

We caught up with Food Network Stars about their unique turkey day traditions with family and friends.

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Bobby Flay

"Thanksgiving is usually 50 people at my house that I cook for. It's just a tradition every year where I cook two 30-pound turkeys for family and friends, and I usually theme the Thanksgiving. We usually pick a theme that has to do with an occurrence that has taken place in the world. So the year of Hurricane Katrina, for instance, we did all Louisiana food."

Alex Guarnaschelli

"I do a ton of cooking. My daughter and I are going to have Thanksgiving with family, and then she and I are going to cook our own holiday private dinner after. So we use the holidays as an excuse to make several sets of dinners."

Robert Irvine

"I've been married for four years, and Gail and I are normally on the road. But when we're at home, a new tradition has started to have my girls and cook, you know, the whole nine yards. My girls are teenagers now. They used to go into soup kitchens and give their time on that day. But now we cook and we all go to the soup kitchen. So it's a new tradition."

Anne Burrell

"I don't usually go home to my family for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving it's kind of my New York City family. New York City families, they're usually not people you're related to, but people that are in your life every day, and so you kind of adopt them as your family. All New Yorkers have their New York family. Sometimes it's at my house, sometimes it's at someone else's house. But I'm always a turkey briner. I brine my turkey for three days. Every year people tell me my turkey is the best turkey they have ever had because it's juicy and delicious and super flavorful. I've gotten my turkey recipe down. I just am a very classic Thanksgiving kind of person. I love my turkey the same way every year. I love my stuffing the same way every year. Every bite of Thanksgiving dinner, I need to have the perfectly composed bite. So it's turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes on every forkful."

Geoffrey Zakarian

"You know, some people have a lot of traditions, but we don't think Thanksgiving is that big a deal because we eat like pigs all the time. Thanksgiving is about food, and layer a holiday about food on top of all people do is talk about food. It's almost like glut fest. We don't look at it as stress at all because we love it. It's just more of what we do."

Damaris Phillips

"Everybody brings food. We all put it on the kitchen island, and then everyone stands around for four or five hours just looking at the food and picking at the food. Just grazing, and then we eat the meal, and it stays out and we eat again. It is hilarious."

Jeff Mauro

"We start with pasta. Like a first course of homemade ravioli. One or two, nothing too crazy. My grandma makes sausage bread, which we all fill up on. So I rarely eat the dinner after. You know, I eat the appetizers that are laid out before we sit down. I go to two: my in-laws and my side. I usually have two Thanksgivings. Double duty."

Marcela Valladolid

"It's like a mash-up of Mexican and American traditions. Where we grew up, on the border, half the family is American, so we adopted a lot of the classic American traditions. For example, we celebrate both Halloween and La Dias Muertos (sic). So I think one of the traditions I enjoy the most at Thanksgiving is that it's always a potluck and we all contribute. Some contributions are classic American, like there is always a turkey, there's cranberry sauce, there's some pumpkin pie, but somebody will show up with, like, tamales, and I'll put chiles in the turkey. The tradition is just the mash-up of the Mexican and American culture. It's pretty cool."

Katie Lee

"I celebrate with lots and lots of food, obviously. I like to eat around 2:00 so you don't have to starve yourself the entire day, and you're kind of hungry again around 6:30 or 7 and you can go back for seconds."

Sunny Anderson

"My family doesn't really have unique holiday traditions because we're prior military. My dad is a veteran and I am as well. So usually when we were growing up and traveling we were in different cities, different towns, states, countries, so our Thanksgivings were usually pretty standard because we always wanted them to feel like home and be the same. It was like our one thing that was always the same. So nothing really outlandish. But I will say, when I tell people about my mom's dressing with oysters in it, they make a funny face. It's never a good face, but I'm just like, you just have to try it. Trust me, it's delicious."

Ted Allen

"Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays to cook for. It's funny because when you're in the food business, when you're on Food Network or working for a food magazine, you have these competing desires to do something new each year while at the same time observing tradition. I tend to mix it up with sides and wines. Maybe I'll do the turkey a different way. Maybe I'll do it on the grill. I'll smoke it or something. I've come out against brining; I am now anti-brine. I don't want to soak my protein in water before I try to get a beautiful crust on it. Instead what I do now is I use it, inspired by the late Chef Judy Rodgers from Zuni Café, she liked to take poultry and salt the heck out of it, like three days in advance. What that does is draw moisture into the skin initially, but then that moisture draws back into the meat with salt. It's like a dry brine or cure. And that's my go-to now."

Guy Fieri

"For the last three or four years, I've cooked my entire Thanksgiving dinner for 60 people with wood on the back of my barbecue trailer: five big turkeys, two heritage and three supermarket. And I make everything with my buddies cooking outdoors, rain or shine. I eat in my barn in my hometown, in the little town I was raised in, in Ferndale. This year it's changing. We're gonna go to another location and do another outdoor experience. But it usually involves dirt bikes and riding ATVs and our Polaris RZRs. You know, doing all that. So we're not, "Somebody's gonna make cranberry, somebody’s gonna make mashed potatoes." It's always like a shotgun wedding. It's a brigade of people coming in and getting it done. And it's a big feed."

Michael Symon

"Depends on the year, but we're between 30 and 60 people for Thanksgiving. So we do a bunch of turkeys, and we always do one traditional one — the one that I say is for my grandpa. He wants a traditional turkey, traditional stuffing [with] sage, butter, thyme — all the things you think of when you think of a traditional turkey. My son, Kyle, and my brother-in-law and my father-in-law and my sister-in-law are fire eaters. So we do one turkey that we stuff with ghost chiles and roast it — so one very spicy one. And then we do one wildcard turkey. So we like to make it kind of traditional with fun. My mother-in-law is from the South, so we always have an oyster stuffing, we always have collards. For my grandfather I always have a wild rice and sausage stuffing. And then the traditional turkey. And then we just let it rip."

Scott Conant

"The best thing about having a young family is you get to evolve and change and start new traditions. So one of the things that I always try to do is we'll have Thanksgiving with my family and my wife’s family, and then the next day we'll just have it with my wife and our two little girls. We'll do it again! I'll cook first thing in the morning: a small turkey for the four of us. We'll just have that together."

Marc Murphy

"Every year I feel like we do something different. The only tradition is inviting friends over and some family and having a good time."

Maneet Chauhan

"You know what, I have been working for Thanksgiving for so long, but now with my daughter we have started Thanksgiving traditions, and basically what it is, we take all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes and put our own twist on it. So it's like a tandoori turkey, the stuffing is usually lentil and rice. The cranberry has ... it's a cranberry-fennel chutney. Even the mac and cheese has Indian spices, like a curried mac and cheese ... So to me just because Thanksgiving wasn't a festival that I grew up with, it's very exciting to make your own traditions."

Chris Santos

"Every Thanksgiving for the last 25 or 26 years, I always make a cornbread stuffing with sage, dried cherries and pecans. That sounds not maybe as interesting as it actually is, but it's a whole three-day process. I make enough to feed about 1,000. I started making it at home when I was a teenager for the six of us, and now I make it for about 1,000 a year."

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