The holiday season already has us all soft on the inside and family-friendly on the outside. Gatherings, Friendsgiving parties, even premature Christmas lights, all are fair game in the creation of  proper holiday spirit. Right before Thanksgiving turkey festivities kick off the holiday season, we caught up with local chefs, some of which we featured this year in our Local Chef Spotlight series, and asked them to share their favorite holiday traditions. Their answers surprised us, made us laugh, and most importantly—reminded us how special this time of year is.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? Tell us in the comment section below!


“If my family visits me from the Philippines, we always must get a meal at the House of Prime Rib, because good beef is expensive and hard to come by in Cebu. Or if I am lucky enough to visit them in Cebu, we would roast a lechon de leche, a Cebuano roasted baby pig…because it’s the best thing ever! But on the opposite end of the spectrum, if I’m here solo for the holidays, I’ll usually get some Chinese or Thai food to go and eat at home and watch Netflix. Can’t go wrong with salted chicken fried rice and a clay pot from Yuet Lee or New Sun Hong Kong!”
Tim Luym, Buffalo Theory


“Living in San Francisco, we’ve somewhat adopted the ‘orphan’s dinner’, the orphans being friends that don’t leave the city to visit family, or family that comes to visit that don’t know your friends. Somehow it has become a contest on how to have a grander meal than the year before. The one thing that never changes is how we start our meal, a tradition that is running 10 years strong—we always start our meal with champagne and a ‘Grande Plateau’ of seafood. Friends gathering around a table of raw oysters to shuck, poached shrimp to peel, Dungeness crab waiting to be plucked from its shell, or ceviche to enjoy by the spoonful. If you ever had to take a guess what a few chefs in this city are eating during the holidays, this would be a simple snap shot.”
Chef Jason Halverson, Hi Neighbor Restaurant Group

mr jiu3

“This year, for the first time, we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving at Mister Jiu’s. My parents usually have Thanksgiving at their house and it’s become a big event with like 50-60 people—friends, family, and people who don’t have family close by come to celebrate with us! It’s always casual. We play games and cook up a storm. It’s a very big mix of American traditions and Chinese dishes. We usually have a turkey with lots of Chinese sides. We have sticky rice and Chinese vegetables and this year I am doing oxtail Chinese style. Almost all of my family still lives in the Bay Area and a lot of them haven’t been into the restaurant yet, so we thought it would be nice to have everyone over. And it’s easier with the commercial dish washer and enough tables to seat everyone! My whole family will be there, some of our staff from the restaurant, one of our farmers, people from the industry—everyone!”
Brandon Jew, Mr. Jiu’s


“The way we celebrate the holidays is we often make Draniki (Belarusian latkes). We usually make enough for days. The family comes over every day during Chanukah and eats them until they are gone. Roasted geese with apples and foie gras has become a personal tradition over the past few years around Christmas because a lot of my friends aren’t Jewish and it’s fun to celebrate together.”
David Nayfeld, Mama Galina


“My family come from an Island called Phu Quoc. Both of my parents’ families have been free diving for generations. My mother didn’t eat meat until she immigrated here to the US in her early 20’, so seafood is huge in my family, specifically Dungeness Crab during the holidays. Crab is our version of Turkey. Since it’s season always falls in line with T-Day.”
Tu David Phu