Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Report: Five Chefs Share Their Thanksgiving Shopping List

How Ari Taymor, Jessica Koslow, Matthew Biancaniello, and more shop for their Thanksgiving meal

Thanksgiving is the great food equalizer. Every year on the fourth Thursday of November nostalgia trumps ambition. There are no anti-griddles, no walk-ins full of mise en place and no dishwashers (at least not of the hourly wage earning human kind). Across America we are essentially all cooking the same ingredients – turkey, mashed potatoes, root vegetables and maybe something green. So if you want to up your game this holiday, sourcing ingredients is step one. This week we asked five chefs what they are buying for their own Thanksgiving meals and who they are buying it from.

Ari Taymor, Alma – Carrots from McGrath Family Farms and Parsnips from Weiser Family Farms

“I like to start a fire in a fireplace and rake the coals from the back to the front and just drop the vegetables straight into the coals and just let them sit there and keep turning them. Over the course of forty five minutes to an hour they just get this super caramelized flavor. It’s kind of low effort and a fun way to cook and it infuses the food with this really intense but at the same time really subtle smokiness and richness…it’s a wonderful way to cook big root vegetables.”  

Jessica Koslow, Sqirl – Delicata squash from Weiser Family Farms, Broccoli and Fava Leaves from Milliken Family Farms

“The reason why I love delicata squash is because it’s really easy for everyone to use. You can quickly cut it in half, deseed it and roast it in small pieces with the skin on – so it doesn’t take a lot of effort to use delicata squash and make it for a lot of people. Then I’ll make a brown butter vinaigrette that I’ll toss the squash in after they’re roasted off and fold in fava leaves and broccoli cover crop leaves that I’ll be getting from Milliken here at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.”

Matthew Biancaniello, bartender – Guavas from Garcia Farms, Quince from Windrose Farms, Hachiya Persimmons from JJ’s Lone Daughter Ranch

“There are incredible guavas from Garcia Farms that I’m infusing into Organic Tequila No 1, 2 and 3. You just put that in there for a week and serve it straight when people arrive. I also just picked up some quince (which is the only real edible quince that you don’t have to cook) from Windrose Farms that I’m infusing into Dolin Blanco vermouth for a little aperitif. And my favorite is the Hachiya persimmon which this year I’m doing with my wild cactus infused tequila with persimmons and sage. It’s really really great.”

Steve Sampson, Sotto – Potatoes from Weiser Family Farms, Salad Greens from Coleman Family Farms, Citrus from Bob Polito and Mud Creek Ranch

“With the Weiser Farms potatoes, they are so beautiful I don’t really like to use them for mashed potatoes. I would kind of par boil them in really salted water and then roast them in a pan so they get really nice and crispy on the edges and finish it with rosemary and sage. I’m also going to be doing an orange cake…it’s kind of like an upside down cake but instead of pineapple you use oranges. You start off with a caramel and then roast some of the oranges and some of the segments on the bottom and then put like a genoise mix on top of it.”

Rose Lawrence, Red Bread – White Sweet Potatoes from Milliken Family Farms and Sugar Pie Pumpkins from either Weiser Family Farms or Rutiz Farms

“Thanksgiving is a very special time in my family, we consider it Piesgiving, so there’s always going to be one turkey and at least three different types of pies. This year I’m making a lot of sweet potatoes using Japanese white sweet potatoes and topping it with our homemade marshmallow fluff that I make with buckwheat honey from Burt’s Bees. We are also making for sale a black bottom sugar pie pumpkin pie with the toasted seeds on top. (Black bottom means chocolate ganache.)

To make pumpkin pie from a fresh market pumpkin it requires a bit more time investment. You always want to get a sugar pie pumpkin or a really sweet varietal. Kabocha squash stands in beautifully for it. You want to roast it at 350 until they are nice and soft – we like to brush ours with a little bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon just to start bringing out the flavor. Then puree that and combine it with cream, eggs – your standard custard pie – and you’ve got what you don’t need to get out of a can.”