We love learning about everyone’s holiday food traditions, so we tapped Executive Chef Arnie Tellez of Shaw’s Crab House and Executive Chef David DiGregorio of Osteria Via Stato to hear about their favorite holiday recipes and family traditions they celebrate in their own homes. From the Feast of the Seven Fishes to multi-generational tamale-making, read on to learn more!

Tamales with Arnulfo (Arnie) Tellez

Executive Chef, Shaw’s Crab House

Chef Arnie's Holiday Tamales - Holiday Food Traditions 
My family celebrates a Mexican Christmas and tamale-making is one of my favorite holiday food traditions. My mother, Maria, taught us her recipe for homemade tamales that she would make during the Mexican tradition of Las Posadas. She would mix the dough until it could float in a glass of water. That’s how she knew it was ready. Now, we all come together and work as a team to mix the masa in a large bowl. It takes a lot of strength, so my father and I are usually the ones to do the mixing now. We then form a line and some family members spread the masa on the corn husks, while others fold. My children have learned the tradition and are quite good at making and eating the tamales. Our favorites include sweet tamales con pasas (with raisins) and spicy tamales con pollo y salsa verde (with chicken and green salsa). Now, we also celebrate with this tradition each year with my in-laws.

Family making tamales - holiday food traditions

Dough for Sweet Tamales Con Pasas (with Raisins)
Yield: Dough for 30 tamales

8 large eggs
2 ¼ cups butter
3 cups wheat flour
1 cups rice flour
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp of baking powder
Raisins to taste

Mixing the tamales - Chef's Holiday Food Traditions

1. Beat the butter and sugar until soft and smooth in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add 2 eggs and continue beating. Separate the rest of the egg whites from the yoke.
3. Add the flour, little by little, and continue beating.
4. When flour is all added, add the baking powder while still mixing.
5. Add the rest of the egg yokes and continue beating. Beat egg whites until fluffy and fold into dough.
6. See if a bit of dough will float in water. If so, mix is ready to form tamales.

Feast of the Seven Fishes with Chef David DiGregorio

Executive Chef, Osteria Via Stato 

Feast of the Seven Fishes at Osteria Via Stato - Holiday Food Traditions

I have fond memories of my grandfather preparing the Feast of the Seven Fishes each Christmas Eve while I was growing up. Reputedly named for the seven hills of Rome, this multi-course meal captures the spirit of Italy with an abundance of mouthwatering seafood dishes from around the country. It was a holiday food tradition that we celebrated and looked forward to every year. For me, it is all about nostalgia and family. I know that the Seven Fishes Dinner at Osteria Via Stato has become a tradition for many of our guests and we’re looking forward to sharing it with even more people each year.