Prawns on the beach to duvet beef: Chefs share their Christmas food memories

Reminiscing over Christmases past is a crucial part of the festive season, especially when it comes to deciding what you'll be dishing up this year. Ella Walker asked some celebrity chefs about their favourite Christmas foodie memories

Christmas Family Dinner Table Concept
PA Wire

1. According to Tim Anderson, you can grow to love mince pies

MasterChef winner Tim is American, so his first British Christmas was quite the experience: "First of all, so many desserts – trifle, the cake, the Christmas pudding. Then my mother-in-law makes Christmas cookies and rocky road. Mince pies; I didn't like them at first, I thought they were too sweet, but now I can't get enough of them. And then the roast dinner, which I think is the height of British cooking. Roast potatoes, my father-in-law taught me to make them and they're amazing. We just do mash in America.''

2. Rick Stein remembers a hot Aussie Christmas

"The first time I had an Australian Christmas, which was salad and prawns outdoor by the pool – and this was in the early 80s; my fond memories are always of having turkey or goose – but having a genuine Australian Christmas, which a lot of Aussies don't have, they still have roast turkey, was quite special,'' says the seafood aficionado.

3. Barbecuing in the snow is fine by Claire Thompson

The '5 O'clock Apron' blogger lived in Africa until she was eight, so grew up having hot Christmases by the pool, as did her Kiwi husband Matt. But some of her favourite Christmases have been since she moved to the UK and started spending them at her mum's house, although they still rarely have turkey: "We have a brilliant photo of Matt standing in gum boots in about 3ft of snow with a head-torch on, barbecuing steaks in my mum's garden.''

4. The trick is to have an all-day breakfast, says Kirstie Allsopp

To avoid rushing about with the turkey, while the kids open their presents first thing, the presenter and Kirstie's Real Kitchen author has restructured Christmas day: "I like to do the supper at six o'clock, after the Queen's speech, and basically have an all-day, rolling breakfast while everyone opens their presents. So, pancakes, scrambled eggs and maybe a bit of salmon – easy things. You can keep everyone fed and occupied – maybe have a couple of glasses of prosecco – and then have a big early supper.''

5. In John Whaite's house, the sprouts are always waterlogged

"It's like a scene from Piranha – the good films, not the new ones with Kelly Brook – with hands coming from every direction trying to grab the crispiest potatoes,'' says the former Bake Off champion of his traditional Christmas lunches at home. "Poor mum always waterlogs the Brussels sprouts, no matter how hard I try to say, 'Please, just fry them'. So I said, 'This year, I don't care what's happening, I will kidnap you if I have to, I'm taking your freedom away from you and I'm making my sticky Lebanese sprouts'. I don't boil anything these days, except pasta!''

6. For Gino D'Acampo, Italian Christmas lunch is a serious business

"Here, it's all about having a starter and then having this huge plate, where the turkey goes on top and the Yorkshire pudding and the potatoes, then it's pretty much over. In Italy it's different,'' explains Gino, whose new book, Gino's Italian Coastal Escape, was recently released. "We do between 10 and 15 different courses. We have fish, because we don't have turkey. One of the dishes we do is sea bass cooked in a salt crust. We do a lot of antipasti, cured hams and cheeses. Then we do one or two plates of pasta. There is a lot for everybody, and you put everything in the middle of the table and spend four or five hours eating all beautiful different kinds of foods.''

7. Kate Young's granny makes the most decadent duvet beef

Australian-born food writer Kate Young, author of the literary inspired Little Library Cookbook, remembers the year her granny visited the UK from Brisbane for one Christmas: "My granny made duvet beef for Christmas dinner, which is the most incredible thing I've ever seen. It's an enormous beef rump that she roasts for 45 minutes in a really hot oven, and then pulls it out and wraps up straight away in foil, newspaper and then in a massive duvet, and then puts it in a box and leaves it for seven hours – it sounds absolutely insane, and if you don't wrap it tight enough and it loses heat, you're just left with raw beef. It gradually cooks inside the duvet, and it's the best rare roast beef you've ever had; blush pink the entire way through. She didn't have her special duvet and box in England that year, so we wrapped it in all our winter coats and put it in my suitcase!''

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