It’s that time of year again — the leaves are changing colour, and we’re starting to pull those nice cozy sweaters out of our closets. With so many winter holidays right around the corner, we sat down with Celebrity Chef Matt Basile to pick his brain about holiday cooking tips, his go-to dishes for bringing family and friends together, and of course, his dog Cali.
Hey Matt! What’s your favourite holiday memory?
A couple [of memories] come to mind. When I was young, I used to be adamant on leaving popcorn and red wine for Santa, versus milk and cookies. In retrospect I understand fully why my parents never argued with this.
Another moment I’ll never forget would have to be when I was about fifteen. At that time, I was working part-time at a butcher shop which always had me working quite a bit of hours during the holidays, especially on Christmas Eve. I remember I got home, we had the family dinner, and gifts, and we were having dessert. My parents were giving me such a hard time, asking me to lift up the couch to grab some toys my cat had knocked underneath.
I remember being almost pissed about it — I’m the only who worked all day on my feet and now I need to randomly lift a couch?? It made no sense… until I lifted up and noticed they had placed a new hockey stick I had been begging for there. I bawled my eyes out. There are some gestures you never seem to forget.
What is your most requested dish when family is around?
I tend to get all the meat and seafood requests. A beautifully cooked beef tenderloin roast – with lobster tails or mammoth shrimps with lemon and chimichurri – always seems to be what’s requested from me lately.
Some of the delicious food Matt cooks up on Instagram [@chefmattbasile]
Do you have a favourite meal that someone else made for you, that you can’t quite replicate?
My Nonna used to make the most incredible artichokes. I don’t even try to replicate them. Wine, and garlic, and olive oil… but what people don’t realize is just how much work artichokes really are. Most people don’t make them just because of how much work it is, but in typical Nonna fashion, her signature dish was something that 99% of people don’t have the patience to make.
What is your dog Cali’s view on the holiday season?
Funny you ask. This dog gets literally spoiled by everyone on both sides of the family. She really knows how to play to her strengths. Cheese, charcuterie, ham, turkey… this dog will sit and look adorable and make you feel loved for literally any food that isn’t kibble. It’s so bad that just last month I took her to the vet for a checkup. We were looking at her weight over the last two years and we noticed there were two massive spikes: December 2021 and December 2022… go figure.
If you could give every home cook a professional tip for holiday cooking, what would it be?
Do not underestimate the power of lists and prep sheets. You don’t need to be a pro to benefit from mapping out the vision of your menus, the prep schedule of what has to be done, when, and any dietary or plating notes. It will actually help bring down the anxiety that sits on the shoulders of the person in charge of getting it all together.
Matt has released two cookbooks to date.
If you could cook a whole holiday dinner on just your Alchemy Grill, what it would be and how would you do it?
Oooooh, great question. It depends for how many people, but let’s say it’s a lot. I would slow smoke two full bone-in rib roasts, and I would place a drip tray underneath it to catch drippings. I’d then boil some potatoes up top, and smash them with cream, butter, sour cream, and yolks for some ultra smooth mashed potatoes. I’d use the drips to make gravy, carve up the roast, and serve it with some horseradish and chives. And I’d cook some mushrooms over the fire pit.
Interested in seeing more of Chef Matt Basile? Take a look at a few of our favourite moments in the reel below:
You can catch Chef Matt Basile at Alchemy Farms, cooking fresh, amazing food on the Alchemy Grill. But don’t wait too long – his experiences sell out very quickly. Contact us to see how Matt can help bring value to your clients and brands.