Ask A Chicago Expert: Compiling The Perfect Holiday Menu

December 4, 2013 6:00 AM



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Born in Paris, today Chef Martial Noguier calls Chicago his home. He’s the executive chef and owner at Bistronomic, which is his interpretation of a traditional bistro in the Gold Coast. Prior to opening Bistronomic, Chef Noguier studied under Jacques Maximin and Alain Ducasse. He also worked in a number of high-profile restaurants, including One SixtyBlue in Chicago. Today, his Gold Coast bistro is open all year round, including on the holidays. This Christmas Day from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., he’ll be offering a special prix fixe menu that includes three courses: appetizer, entree and dessert, with a few choices available for each. Savor dishes like house-made sweet potato gnocchi, prime beef short ribs and date and apple clafoutis for a price of $65 per adult and $20 per child. Bistronomic has been a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist in the national Best New Restaurant category. It has also been recognized by Michelin with a Bib Gourmand, among other high honors. Here is his advice on pulling off a flawless holiday meal at home.

Chef Martial Noguier
840 N. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 944-8400

Tip 1: Cook as much as you can in advance

The day of celebrating will be hectic enough as is, and even more so when you factor in the cooking time. Chef Noguier advises preparing as much as possible in advance. You can make a soup or stew, like beef bourguignon, the day before. The day you’ll be serving it, just warm it up in a bain-marie. Roast your meat in advance as well. On the holiday, “simply warm, slice and plate before serving to guests.” You can also prepare salads, mashed potatoes or desserts the day before. “The idea is to spend as much time out of the kitchen and with your guests as possible.” Take it a step further and even set the table the night before.

Tip 2: Get the whole family involved

Holidays are a family occasion, so why not get everyone to help in the kitchen? Chef Noguier has two children, Mia and Mathieu, who join him in the kitchen two hours before the family will eat to help prepare and serve.

Tip 3: Make sure cheeses, desserts and wine are at the right temperature

Not everything can be done the night before, but you don’t have to wait until the last minute either. “Take cheese and chocolate cake out of the refrigerator 2-3 hours prior to dinner. This way, they will be the perfect temperature when enjoyed at mealtime,” says Noguier. As for wine, leave red wine at room temperature and keep white wine and champagne chilled in the fridge.

Related: Best Restaurants Open for Thanksgiving



Recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Bars

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds French rolled wafers (finely crushed)
  • 3 pounds Giandjua hazelnut milk chocolate (melted)
  • 2 pounds hazelnut praline paste
  • Hazelnut oil

Crust Directions:

  1. Mix praline paste with enough oil so that it matches the melted chocolate’s consistency.
  2. Mix the paste/oil with the melted chocolate.
  3. Add to the crushed wafers.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Spread evenly into the frame of an inverted sheet pan with parchment.
  6. Freeze until firm.

Mousse Ingredients:

  • 2.2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate (melted
  • 1 liter (1.5 gallon) cream

Mousse Directions:

  1. Whip cream to a very soft peak.
  2. Fold into warm (not hot) melted chocolate, working quickly.
  3. Spread evenly on the crust.
  4. Freeze.
  5. Dust with cocoa powder.
  6. Bon appetit!

Related: Best Pumpkin Treats in Chicago

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at

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