9 of Devon’s famous foodies tell us what they’ll be eating this Christmas
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From braised cuttlefish to turkey with all the trimmings, 9 of Devon’s top chefs and some of our favourite residents tell Chrissy Harris what’s going to be on their dinner table this year
1) Mark Dodson, Chef
Mark Dodson, owner and chef at the Masons Arms in Knowstone, says his kids love a roast and he’ll be delivering the goods this year – after he’s done a day’s work.
“We are open Christmas Day, so I’ll be cooking traditional meals for our diners and then we usually have a very nice meal in the evening, once everyone has gone,” says Mark.
“There’ll be stuffing. We do a sausagemeat and chestnut but I wouldn’t get away without doing a sage and onion, too. There’ll be cranberry sauce and loads of bread sauce –about two pints because the kids love it. I’ll probably crown the turkey to give us more space in the oven for the other stuff!
“We’ll have teaspoon of Christmas pudding,” he adds, laughing. “And of course a pint of brandy sauce. I tend to prefer citrus-y puddings after Christmas dinner, like a lemon posset. It’s a bit lighter.”
Find out more about The Masons Arms
2) The Unmumsy Mum Sarah Turner
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Exeter author, blogger and mum Sarah says Christmas will be slightly more interesting this year because she is expecting baby number three, due on December 19.
“Christmas Dinner for us is almost always turkey with all the trimmings. Though not a traditional turkey accompaniment, we add Yorkshire puds to the table beacuse it’s one of the only guaranteed roast dinner elements that our three-year-old will eat (he appears to have a phobia of vegetables!)
“I am expecting baby number three the week before Christmas, so there’s a chance I will be in hospital or back at home with a newborn! Either way, it’s safe to say I am not expected to do the cooking this year - I imagine we’ll all head to my mother-in-law’s. I just hope I don’t miss my dinner ...”
Note: Sarah’s baby boy Wilf was born on December 12! Congratulations!
Find out more about The Unmumsy Mum
3) Michael Wignall , Executive Chef at Gidleigh Park, Chagford
Michael is pioneering a different pudding this year: “This year, I’m going to go really traditional with lunch on Christmas day then do something a bit different for dessert. Normally, everyone gets so excited about the main event - the turkey - that pudding gets half-eaten or not at all.
“Not everyone likes Christmas pudding in our house. I love it but my wife hates it and she’s the boss. So this year, I’m going to bring a really interesting take on dessert, that way it won’t get overlooked and I’ll know everyone will enjoy it.
“Take my marinated cherry and chestnut dish. We marinate the cherries in summer, for the winter months. It’s a take on Christmas ingredients, that resembles a Christmas wreath. And far more easy on the stomach than pudding!”
Find out more about Gidleigh Park
Check out our other Christmas content!
4) Laura Crane, surfer and model
Top surfer and model Laura Crane from Croyde, North Devon, loves a bit of home cooking: “Christmas lunch is literally the meal I look forward to all year. Living in Portugal means I miss out on Sunday lunches but mum really makes up for it on Christmas Day.
“We have all the meats, a nut roast, veggies roast potatoes, red cabbage, Yorkshire puddings, gravy and all the puddings I can fit in! Eton mess is my favourite. It’s a serious cheat day.”
See Laura’s Instagram page
5) Thomas Carr, North Devon chef
Thomas is used to cooking Michelin Star quality meals and Christmas dinner is no exception. Just don’t mention the turkey:
“I will definitely not be cooking a turkey. I’ve never been a fan of turkey, it’s a dry old bird, and there’s not all that much you can do with it.
“I’ll probably be doing a five-course menu, which will include duck with seasonal vegetable, and a couple of fish courses. I will have the lobster or prawn cocktail to start, and probably some lovely wintery fish, like sea bass and brill.”
Find out more about Thomas Carr
6) Sivalingam Vasanthakumar
Kumar’s Dosa Bar and Farm in Lifton sells authentic South Indian food across Devon and Cornwall. Sivalingam Vasanthakumar, known as Kumar, says he’s looking forward to festive food when it’s Thai Pongal, an important harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil Hindus:
“It is celebrated to convey appreciation to the Sun God for a successful harvest. Part of the celebration is the boiling of the first rice (sweet and sour) of the season consecrated to the sun.
“After worshipping the sun, we offer the sweet and savoury rice to our non-Hindu neighbours. The second day of Pongal is celebrated to worship of the cows for giving us milk, dung for manure to grow crops.
“I like this part of Pongal because we decorate the cows horns, make garlands to go around their neck and tie a 10rupee note around the calf’s neck so that whoever can catch the calf can take the money!”
Pongal – which is also fed to the cows – is made up of rice, milk, jiggery (a type of sugar), coconut pieces or mung bean, pepper or tamarind.
Find out more about Kumar’s Dosa Bar
7) Victoria Graham and Justin Leigh
BBC Spotlight stars Victoria Graham and Justin Leigh say Christmas dinner is time for a family feast:
Victoria says: “Christmas is a time to gather around a table to dig in and share food and laughter. Traditional Christmas Day turkey will be tackled by one of my three sisters, a relief to mum who now takes a back seat after over 40 years providing for the Graham family masses.
“Boxing Day is mine. Cold buttered turkey and cider, mustardy glazed ham. Jacket potatoes, only slow low oven baked will do, with celeriac remoulade, warm braised red cabbage, and every possible pickle you can think of (always pickled walnuts for mum). Christmas pudding with home-made brandy sauce is for Boxing Day - there never was such a feast!”
Justin says: “Turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings but for me, the best bit of the whole meal is Christmas pudding.
For many years I have been lucky enough to have a pudding made for me by my Auntie Margaret. I have tried many, very good shop bought ones, but there is nothing to beat her homemade pudding served with plenty of Cornish Clotted Cream.”
Find out more about BBC Spotlight
8) Mitch Tonks, chef and author
Restauranteur, chef and author Mitch Tonks is passionate about inspiring others to enjoy seafood: “I go to Venice at this time of year, I love the light, the glow of the lamps, the small streets and alleyways, walking into small bars and eating bowls of steaming cuttlefish.
“So for me I love to have a bowl of braised cuttlefish in ink with soft polenta over the Christmas break. This dish is so reminiscent of the warmth and spirit of Christmas.
And the great thing is that the cuttlefish is landed right outside my door in Brixham!”
Find out more about Mitch
9) Simon Hulstone, chef
Chef Simon Hulstone from the Michelin-starred The Elephant in Torquay is enjoying a rare day off this year: “This will be my first Christmas off in 22 years and I will be spending it with my family.
“We breed our own Kelly Bronze turkeys on our farm in Brixham and of course they will feature on the day.
“Our guests at The Elephant leading up to Christmas will have all the traditional dishes alongside our modern British cuisine. Game such as venison, wild duck and pigeon sit along nicely with seabass and scallops and great winter vegetables, again from our farm.”
Find out more about The Elephant Restaurant