Dan’s GrillHampton champion chef Peter Ambrose of Endless Summer Events is a Taste of Summer regular, but he’s also a lover of the colder months. Ambrose will offer up his culinary delights the inaugural Dan’s Holiday in the Vines hosted by RG|NY on Saturday, November 30.
Share some of your favorite holiday food traditions from growing up, and from your family today.
My mother’s mom would always bake pizzelle and her version of fry breads for the family. Others in the family have tried to replicate them but none were better. A Christmas Eve tradition as long as I can remember is pasta with tuna bolognese. Christmas morning was great kielbasa and scrambled eggs.
What is the one food or dish that defines holiday season for you?
I think it would always be a comfort/share dish and I think lasagna is a great one. It’s a dish that requires building flavors and plenty of love to make a great lasagna. A great bolognese, sweet sausage, perfect béchamel, all coming together to make a great dish.
What is the secret to creating the perfect food-and-wine pairing?
I’m a margarita guy myself, so wine pairing to me is a wine you enjoy and a meal you enjoy. They can never set you down the wrong path paired together.
What goes into creating your fall and winter menus for the restaurant?
Being primarily an off-premise caterer, our fall and winter events are usually family gatherings, “Friendsgiving” and some New Year’s Eve parties. As far as holiday parties, I love to do traditional foods and prepare them in untraditional ways. Crawdad gravies, Hoppin’ Johns Chef Ambrose style, New England clam chowder converted to New Mexico clam chowder.
What aspects define your idea of the perfect holiday celebration?
Well of course, company, foods that encourage interaction, family-style dishes meant to be shared and passed, fun drinks like harvest margaritas.
What is the best holiday gift you’ve ever received, and why?
My children were all born within a two-week period from the end of October to the first couple weeks of November. I vividly remember their first Christmases and then being old enough to acknowledge their surroundings and know for the first time in their lives that Christmas is not every other day. So my children, for sure.
How do you enjoy the fall and winter season when you’re not in the kitchen?
I am an avid golfer and fall is the best time of year to play golf, great conditions and less crowds. As long as the thermometer hits 38 and the wind is down and the snow is not on the ground, golf continues through the winter.
What do you love about the cooler-weather seasons and the holiday time of year here on the East End?
The East End comes to life again from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Tree lighting and the great late-fall produce we still produce. The effort and detail that businesses put into decorating makes Eastern Long Island a winter wonderland.
What is your favorite holiday movie or TV special, and why?
Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. It’s great story and it never gets old.
What is the best kind of holiday cookie?
I’m a sucker for simple shortbread cookies.
You have a glass of your favorite wine in-hand. What is your toast for the holiday season and the new year?
That 2020 offers the opportunity to accomplish all your 2019 goals you may not have achieved. Perhaps you just needed more time or life just got in the way. Pursue your dreams and always treat everyone in the manner you wish they would treat you.