It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also the most hectic. Busy professionals are trying to wrap up end-of-year projects and plan for 2015, all while navigating a calendar full of holiday invitations from colleagues and clients. If you’re doing the hosting, how do you make your event stand out in a sea of seasonal gatherings?
Chef James “JR” Robinson, founder of Washington, D.C.-based private chef and catering company KitchenCray and a contestant on the most recent season of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, suggests turning that calendar upside down—with a holiday brunch.
Brunch, says Robinson, is a fresh way to mix it up. And it’s the antidote to too many late nights spent at holiday cocktail parties. In the District, KitchenCray does both a weekly Sunday brunch and day party at Cities Restaurant & Lounge and a bi-monthly Saturday midnight brunch at Park View Patio.
Robinson, whose love of cooking started in his grandmother’s kitchen, is a fan of taking favorites that elicit feelings of comfort and nostalgia and reimagining them to create memorable new dishes. “You can take classic recipes that your grandmother made and add a twist; take dishes you had as a kid and take it to another level. Sweet potato pie is my favorite. It reminds me of the holidays. That’s why I did sweet potato waffles.”
Here are more ways to throw a holiday brunch they’ll still be talking about next year:
Don’t serve the same ol’ things. Especially at this time of year, guests may be tired of eating the same handful of traditional holiday foods. “You have to have your own specialty dishes. They don’t want the same boring stuff. They want something new, something exciting,” Robinson says. “Get creative. Play around with classic dishes. That’s what I did with the waffle.”