Chef Evelyn’s Holiday Stress-Free Cooking Tips

Every year we host our annual Christmas dinner at our Richmond head office. With great teamwork, we transform our warehouse into a festival party site. We bring in a gorgeous Christmas tree that is fresh, tall and green, decorated with lights, ornaments and spray on snowflakes. Put up dining tables lined with theme table cloth, along with sparkling wine glasses and silverwares. Set up hard wood floors for shows, dance and games, and make sure there are lots of foods for everyone to enjoy. 

For me, the holidays are all about food; slow-cooked, well-spiced, filled-with-love food that is served in multiple varieties and gigantic proportions. But sometimes, holiday cooking could be very stressful when it comes to a great amount of guests, especially when the help is very limited. I’m grateful to have the BEST partner, Theresa, whom I respect and work with every day. Together, with detailed planning, precise timing and perfect execution, we managed to complete the challenge with available resources every year.

Timing is everything – Plan ahead, Shop ahead, and Prep ahead

My tips for holiday stress-free cooking are very basic, simply plan ahead, shop ahead, and prep ahead. By following these tips I guarantee you will cater a perfect holiday meal like a professional chef will do.

RSVP – Confirm the number of guests that will be attending the dinner party, make sure if there are any allergy and dietary restrictions.

MENU – The most important part when hosting a holiday party will be the menu. Planning out your meals in advance and choose wisely, it will not only save you time, but also amazed your guests of what a culinary foodie you are.

SHOPPING LIST – once you have your menu planned, it’s time to do the shopping. This could be very time consuming, always double or even triple check your list before you took off. Swing between home and grocery stores in crewed holiday season is no fun. Finding a parking spot will even ruin the day. Do it early!

PRIORITIZED – Do all cutting at one time, from my past experience, chopping can easily take up all your times, so go ahead and chop enough vegetables for all meals on the night before, keep it refrigerated and coved, the vegetables will stay fresh for couple days, and be ready whenever you need it.

BRINE MEAT – Always brine your meats overnight for a juicy and flavorful taste. Brining means soaking meats in a salty solution. The salt solution unwinds meat proteins to form a hollow tube. The brine solution travels into the protein, carrying the flavors of the herbs and other ingredients. The solution becomes trapped inside — creating a delicious, juicy meat that is hard to beat. Keep in mind a lot of poultry, especially around the holidays, is already plumped and brined with salt solutions; always check the package before you do your own brine. Check out our Classic Holiday Turkey recipe for brining turkey.

SYSTEMIZED – Before you begin cooking, decide in what order you will need to cook each item so that they will all be ready at about the same time. You don’t want to first start on something that will only take 15 minutes to cook, when another menu item will take 2 hours.

By implementing these tips, you’ll be able to whip out a great home-cooked holiday meal in no time. You’ll also be less tired because you have put less energy into preparing the meal. And enjoy time that you saved to spend it with your family and friends.

Check out our Holiday Recipes. Happy cooking!