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Top Nevada chefs serve up holiday entertaining advice

Buche de Noel at Mon Ami Gabi
Courtesy Mon Ami Gabi

Buche de Noel at Mon Ami Gabi

Today State of Nevada helps add a little zing to this year’s Christmas and New Year’s festivities.

We invited top chefs from both ends of Nevada over for a chat on how to make holiday meals memorable.

A good piece of expert advice: Make a list and check it twice.

“Start scheduling now,” urged Jessica Shapiro, executive chef at Reno’s Cheeseboard Bistro and Catering. “Take a look at what's seasonal. Our food supply chain is pretty messed up right now.”

She encourages home cooks to do what restaurants do and “write down everything we have to plan out.”

Once a strategy is in place, Shapiro said look for ways to prep food or otherwise work ahead.

“If you can, you can get a casserole ready to go a couple of days before,” she said.

Bruce Kalman, owner of SoulBelly BBQ in downtown Las Vegas, said people are looking for even more convenience than that.

“We started doing these take-home packages for the holidays,” he said. “And we had our Thanksgiving packages and that went over super well.”

Kalman said bourbon/orange glazed ham and whole chickens with cranberry barbecue sauce are popular Christmas offerings this year at his restaurant, which was recently named a hidden gem by Nevada Public Radio’s Desert Companion magazine. 

As for his family’s Christmas dinner, Kalman said he’ll be bringing it home from SoulBelly.

“We spend so much time at the restaurant, away from our families, and a meal like that takes a couple of days,” he said. “I would rather spend the time with my family and reheat everything in the oven.”

With food costs rising, Shapiro said more people are using less expensive cuts of mean, substituting vegetables for animal protein, and making sure leftovers don’t go to waste.

Along with turkey pot pie and ham and split-pea soup, Shapiro said “we do lots of quiches” with leftovers.

Jessica Shapiro. executive chef, Reno’s Cheeseboard Bistro and Catering; Bruce Kalman, owner, SoulBelly BBQ in Las Vegas

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Christopher Alvarez is a news producer and podcast audio editor at Nevada Public Radio for the State of Nevada program, and has been with them for over a year.
Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.