Traditional Christmas Brunch Deconstructed with Chef Vinesh Johny
He has worked with multiple luxury properties in India, in various capacities, before he found his calling to be an educator along with being a chef. He was on the inaugural Forbes ‘30 Under 30 Asia’ list in 2016, made it to the ‘All-Star Alumni’ list in 2017 and 2019 and, was one of CNN’s ’20 Under 40’ in 2017 as well.
He was presented the prestigious Restaurant India Award 2016 for Pastry Chef of the Year and has also brought home various other awards as an educator at the Lavonne Academy.
He is also a celebrated expert for WorldSkills India. Known for officially representing India at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi in 2017. He was also the official mentor for Team India and helped India achieve our first Silver medal ever in Patisserie!
TheVibe spoke to this talented genius about all things jolly and merry on the occasion of Christmas along with Christmas traditions- old and new. So, dive right in as the beautiful winter laced with the holiday season takes over everyone, everywhere.
°How Do You Feel About Christmas?
“Christmas is my favourite time of the year!” Chef Vinesh said with a smile on his face.
“I think I’ve always had the jolliest Christmas time at home right from the beginning, I started off with preparing delicacies in a regular catholic home that too from Kerala. I made these with my mother like diamond cuts, various kinds of ladoos, club cakes, rose cookies and the most amazing Kalkal.” He further added.
He believes that Christmas is the most amazing time for pastry chefs and bakers, “Christmas is the best time for us and since 2008, my Christmases have only been in the kitchen; it is one of the most exciting feelings for me to make them special for the customers. The things you make for Christmas are special and the customers get very excited and happy. It’s amazing!” He expressed.
“My favourite childhood memory of Christmas would be the first week of December. Our family would go to farms and we would also set up the scene of the birth of Jesus. It used to be the most creative process. I used to really look forward to it and always wonder if we can do something amazing. Once, we took the brown paper to make rocks etc. every family used to try and present their unique ideas drenched in creativity!” He added.
°What Is Your Favourite Part of Christmas?
There are a lot of great things about Christmas but Chef Vinesh believes that his Favourite part is his traditions in the kitchen, “It’s amazing when you can smell Christmas in the air in the kitchen. Loads of chefs come together, a while before the holiday season and we all indulge in Christmas fruit mixing. This is one of my favourite traditions for Christmas!” He said with a wide smile.
He further added, “Outside of the kitchen. I think my favourite part has to be going home. I really enjoy making delicacies with my parents at home and it’s fun for me to do so because we have been doing so for ages. It’s a great feeling!”
°What Should Be Included in A ‘Traditional Christmas Meal’?
Chef Johny believes that when it comes to a traditional Christmas meal, factoring in the where and what matters. Various countries around the globe have their own little traditions. In fact, traditions can also vary from city to city!
A Typical UK breakfasts include pancakes, classic English breakfast, salmon rolls and eggs. If there are any leftovers from the Christmas dinner on the eve of Christmas, the famous “Christmas pudding” will also be served on the breakfast table. Christmas Pudding is a cooked or steamed pudding made from dried fruit such as raisins, nuts and usually beef kidney fat or vegetable fat. Finally, the dark pudding is often soaked with brandy or other alcohol.
Whereas, the classic Christmas meal in France, “le réveillon”, consists of a turkey stuffed with chestnuts or a capon stuffed with plums. A particularly important part of the meal is the so-called “bûche de Noël”, the Christmas tree cake. The tradition of the Christmas tree cake comes from the rural regions of France, where every guest used to bring a real tree trunk to the Christmas party to heat the house. The Christmas tree cake is also a popular breakfast treat on the following Christmas days.
However, the tables vary from family to family in the United States, but some staples include French toast (topped with powdered sugar, fruit and syrup), pancakes, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, breakfast casseroles and quiche. In the Appalachian Mountains, however, there is one particular tradition that is all it’s own. The residents are mostly descendants of seafarers, so, for this reason, they eat fried or stewed oysters Christmas morning.
However, according to the cultures and traditions of India, the Christmas meals are very different, “I grew up in a Christian Indian household from Kerala and our traditions used to be very different, at a usual Christmas brunch, we would make amazing pies and bakes with wine, roast chicken with pepper and spices, lamb cutlets and bread. We would eat the same family-style- a big table with a lot of things on it!” Chef Vinesh said.
“We would also bake amazing cookies including fabulous Christmas flavours like gingerbread, cinnamon sours, crinkle etc. which we only bake once a year!” He added with a nostalgic feeling.
°Are You Doing Anything Special for Christmas This Year?
“Well, we usually plan Christmas months in advance, we had some exceptional plans for Christmas 2020 but, we think this isn’t the best year to implement them. So, we have kept it quite simple due to the pandemic since, the businesses are picking up, slowly and steadily!” Said Chef Vinesh.
He further added, “Although we do have some special treats at Lavonne this year, for Christmas including the classic Plum Cake, Yule Logs, Plum Pudding, Dresden Stollen, Dundee Cakes, Fruit Loaf, Gingerbread Houses, some assorted Christmas Cookies, special Snowman Macrons, Mince Pie, Kugelhopf, a beautiful Almond and Cherry Florentine, Christmas Cakesicles and last but not the least, a fabulous and special Christmas bucket cake!”
“Also, every year we make something special like last year, we made a huge chimney and this year, we have a huge fireplace inside the café and we let the customers make wishes and leave them in the same. So, come Christmas, we choose a few of those wonderful wishes and make them come true!” He said with a smile.
TheVibe wishes you a very merry Christmas and hope that you and your loved ones have a fabulous holiday season. We also recommend that you visit one of the fabulous branches of Lavonne to taste the most amazing Christmas treats ever!
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