Holiday Dinners: A Cooking Philosophy

Chef Bradley Ogden shares his passion for holiday meals, quality ingredients and traditional American food with a twist.


| December 2012


Award-winning chef Bradley Ogden presents his first cookbook in over a decade. Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden (Running Press, 2011) includes 150 cherished recipes for a range of winter holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — in one delicious guide for making the most memorable meals for the most special occasions. In this excerpt from the introduction, Ogden explains his love for food, family and where the two come together — the holiday dinner table. 

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden.

More Holiday Dinners with Bradley Ogden Recipes

Corn and Sage Stuffing Recipe
Winter Vegetable Salad Recipe  
Grilled Cornish Game Hens Recipe With Spiced Cherry Marinade
Three-Layer Pumpkin Pie Recipe 

People have many gifts in life — music, languages, painting, and even gab. Mine is a special talent for food. I spent the summers of my youth on my grandmother’s farm in Windsor, Ontario. In retrospect, this was the beginning of a fabulous career that I never could have recognized at the time. Both of my grandmothers were great cooks. I believe my mother was as well, although with seven children to look after, she seldom had the opportunity to really demonstrate what she knew. My father, on the other hand, considered himself the world’s greatest cook, and was especially known for his breads and homemade ice cream. Of course, the young spindly arms of my six brothers and sister and me were the engine for his churned creations. Nevertheless, to us, it wasn’t about hard labor but rather playing a game, resulting in a reward of creamy fresh flavors, from cherry to peach to strawberry, all of which we felt were awesome.



Being around good cooks was important for educating my young palate, but the other even more essential lessons were learned from the farm, regarding the importance of seasonal fresh quality ingredients. Every season held a gift of fresh new produce to be picked, prepared, and, most importantly, enjoyed. I vividly remember anticipating certain times of the year for summer tomatoes fresh off the vine, asparagus and morels in the spring, pumpkin and macintosh apples in the fall. There is nothing more flavorful than the simplicity of a farm-fresh egg or a trout taken from an icy creek and placed directly into a sizzling frying pan. Experiencing and appreciating these pure unadulterated tastes and flavors unwittingly helped lay the foundation for my cooking philosophy and successful career.

There is no exception to my love of all things fresh from the farm. These days that means regular visits to my local farmers’ market to buy seasonal items, and purchasing organic and sustainable produce and meats. It’s the best way to get the fresh flavors I remember so well from childhood. Still, when I come across cherries I have mixed feelings of love and dread. I’m sure this came from overexposure, brought out by the fact that I had to spend endless hours picking them in my youth. Fortunately, I’ve long ago learned to appreciate cherries for what they are, and find great satisfaction in cooking with them, as long as I don’t have to pick ’em!







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