Regional casino chefs share their beloved Christmas food reminiscences


San Diegans currently know that area casinos boast some of the greatest restaurants in the location. What they could not know is that its higher-quantity restaurants appeal to chefs from all around the environment. We requested some of the region’s American and international chefs for their favored Christmas dishes.

Marlene Moore

Head chef for Temptations Food stuff Court’s 6 dining places at Pechanga Resort On line casino

Born and lifted in the two-island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, the Menifee resident’s West Indian Xmas feast contains two turkeys (one common and one particular with jerk seasoning) and a ham as very well as West Indian curry rooster with potatoes and steamed rice, oxtail stew with peas and rice, macaroni pie, potato salad with a hint of sweetness. She also tends to make jerk chicken, which she ranks a 12 on the spicy scale of 1 to 10.

“My holiday food with my loved ones will take a good deal of work, but I enjoy each and every moment of all the scheduling, preparation and the cooking. It makes me truly feel like I’m back again household. Loved ones and close friends fly in from New York, Texas and Philadelphia to spend Xmas, or our celebration of it, at our property. I’m really searching forward to it this year, even much more than in decades prior to. It is even much more particular just after not seeing some of my spouse and children for about two decades.”

Jason Luke, an assistan chef at Harrah's Resort Southern California

Jason Luke, an assistan chef at Harrah’s Vacation resort Southern California in Valley Centre.

(Harrah’s Resort Southern California)

Jason Luke

Assistant chef, Harrah’s Resort Southern California

“Growing up, I was embarrassingly picky about foods. I fixated on extra fat, refusing to take in it or skin of any type. Then, when I was 12, I watched my grandfather prepare dinner for Thanksgiving. He grew up very inadequate, but alongside the way experienced turn out to be a phenomenal prepare dinner, and watching him brine and roast a turkey, accompany it with perfect mashed potatoes baked into toasted cones, earning gravy from the pan drippings, pan-searing clean inexperienced beans, and producing some thing I’d hardly ever seen right before with cranberries and bitter cream. It was like looking at him set his coronary heart out on the desk. When he pulled a piece of properly crisp skin from that turkey, I saw him just pause and get his time having it. I realized it experienced to be anything special, so I went for it, also. I was not prepared for what I had been missing. Thinking again, that second may possibly, in all actuality, have despatched me on the route to loving and doing the job with food items. I however make potatoes the very same way, 30 many years later on, and creating a cranberry mousseline is the finest homage I can believe of to the cranberry dish he designed. Cheers Kawpaw.”

Larry D. Banares, executive chef and director of restaurants for Viejas Casino and Resort.

Larry D. Banares, govt chef and director of dining establishments for Viejas On line casino and Resort.

(Viejas Casino and Vacation resort)

Larry D. Banares

Govt chef and director of dining places, Viejas On line casino and Vacation resort

“Being of Filipino heritage, our culture is primarily based on relatives. Not just quick kinfolk, but prolonged family with generations usually dwelling in the exact same residence. This dynamic creates an unbreakable bond developed on food, relatives and pals. We are identified to be particularly hospitable and generous, and really like to entertain and rejoice, specifically at Christmas. In the Philippines, Christmas begins in September with the full enhance of getaway decorations and songs. Hamon, bibingka, pancit, queso de bola and lechon are all Xmas favorites. For me, the correct joy of cooking is sharing, supplying nourishment and building distinctive memories with family members and pals. This is a chef’s satisfaction, primarily during the holiday seasons.”

Ronnel Capacia, executive sous chef at Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula.

Ronnel Capacia, government sous chef at Pechanga Vacation resort On line casino in Temecula.

(Pechanga Resort Casino)

Ronnel Capacia

Government sous chef, Pechanga Resort On line casino

Originally from the island of Guam, Capacia gathers with his family of a lot more than 100 folks each Christmas Working day for a feast incorporating traditional Filipino and Chamorro dishes.

“We go to my aunt’s home in San Diego every calendar year for Christmas evening meal. I will ordinarily head out of Pechanga about 4 or 5 p.m., but my wife and daughters vacation to her home earlier in the day. When I get there, all the food stuff is previously well prepared, but my aunts set me in charge of slicing and carving up the fruit. This is their display, not mine. It is a family members custom I am so grateful to be a element of and to give my kids the working experience of. The loved ones enjoys meat from a full roasted pig (about a 100-pound pig bought from a farmer exterior of Escondido), embutido (a rolled meatloaf with eggs and incredibly hot doggy sausage), buko (coconut) salad, bibingka (a sweet rice cake built with coconut milk as perfectly as the meat from the coconut added in) and Guamanian specialties these as crimson rice, kalbi ribs and rooster kelaguen. It is all tasty and reminds me so considerably of developing up in Guam. There we would have fiestas for Christmas that included our total village, like 200 or 300 people today. Soon after the spiritual ceremonies have been about for the day, the adult males would check on the pig they experienced roasted overnight, and the girls would complete making ready other dishes. It is really significantly the identical now in San Diego, only everyone can help with everything.”

Alain Martins is the Executive Pastry Chef at Valley View Casino & Hotel in Valley Center.

Alain Martins is the Government Pastry Chef at Valley Perspective On line casino & Resort in Valley Heart.

(Valley Perspective Casino & Lodge)

Alain Martins

Govt pastry chef, Valley Look at Casino & Hotel

Elevated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Martins has labored in pastry for the previous a few years at Valley Look at Casino. For the getaway period, he will be planning his signature bourbon pecan frangipane cake, which is served at the resort’s Black & Blue Steakhouse. His fondest recollections include how considerably teamwork it takes to come with each other and make the at any time-switching pastry menu every single season. As a boy he began earning desserts for his older sister and then he examined the pastry job at a culinary university in New York.

Redentor Ramos, executive chef at Harrah's Resort Southern California in Valley Center.

Redentor Ramos, govt chef at Harrah’s Resort Southern California in Valley Heart.

(Harrah’s Vacation resort Southern California)

Redentor Ramos

Executive chef, Harrah’s Resort Southern California

“I don’t keep in mind cooking for Christmas, as I am often at work carrying out brunch or distinctive events. But when I do, I enjoy building an appetizer just before a meal, the place all my loved ones and mates can acquire close to the kitchen and converse even though the youngsters are opening their provides. My favored item to prepare is lobster strudel. They are straightforward to make, and all people often enjoys it.”

Redentor Ramos’ Lobster Strudel recipe:


  • Lobster Tail (cooked, deshelled and slice in chunks)
  • Mushrooms
  • Boursin Cheese
  • Shallots
  • Clean Thyme
  • Italian Parsley
  • Garlic
  • 4 sheets Phyllo Dough (area temperature )
  • Melted Butter
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Truffle Oil — optional

For rooster mousse:

  • Skinless Hen Breast
  • Egg White
  • Major Cream

How to put together:

  • For the mousse, place the hen on the food processor and pulse right until clean, gradually insert the eggwhite and 2 tbsp of large cream and procedure until smooth and mixed effectively collectively. Set aside.
  • Next, saute the mushrooms definitely properly with minced shallot and garlic. Incorporate the white wine, thyme and parsley. Stir routinely until eventually the liquid evaporates. Time with Salt and Pepper. Awesome down and set apart.
  • In a stainless-metal bowl, blend the mushroom and the lobster. Modify the seasoning if essential. Then add chicken mousse. Mix very well and maintain them refrigerated whilst planning the Phyllo dough.
  • To make the Phyllo Dough, line your sheet pan with buttered parchment paper. Lay out just one sheet of Phyllo and brush with melted butter. Repeat applying a full of four sheets of phyllo dough.
  • Lay out lobster and mushroom combination from conclude to close of Phyllo dough. Diligently roll into a strudel.
  • Tucking both equally ends. Brush the strudel with butter. Bake at 375 levels right up until golden and crisp. About 25 minutes.
  • Ultimately, let it relaxation for 10 -15 minutes

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