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Dan’s Holidays in the Vines Countdown: Chef Tom Schaudel

The Long Island restaurateur breaks the rules for seasonal fun.

Chef Tom Schaudel is a Long Island culinary mainstay, and East Enders know him for A Lure and Kingfish. Schaudel explains the secret to wine pairings, holiday traditions and more. He will be serving up fabulous cuisine at Dan’s Holidays in the Vines hosted by RG|NY on Saturday, November 30.

What is the one food or dish that defines holiday season for you?
My grandmother’s roasted pork.

What is the secret to creating the perfect food-and-wine pairing?
I think the secret is in pairing what tastes good to you and what you like. Screw the rules! If you like drinking Syrah with flounder, by all means, do it! Follow YOUR palate. Food and wine are about having fun. Have some, for heaven’s sake!

What goes into creating your fall and winter menus for the restaurant?
Just cooking around the seasons for the most part. That said, you have to temper your “seasonal and local” itch here on Long Island with some other choices or you’ll wind up having 12 dishes with cauliflower on them.

What aspects define your idea of the perfect holiday celebration?
Family, food and wine. Go figure.

What is the best holiday gift you’ve ever received, and why?
My grandparents bought me my first guitar when I was 10 years old. It cemented my love of music and I have been playing ever since. The quintessential gift that never stopped giving.

How do you enjoy the fall and winter season when you’re not in the kitchen?
I like playing golf in the fall, temperature permitting, and although I’m not a big sports guy, I can watch an occasional football game—high school games in particular. I don’t do anything slippery and I don’t like the cold, so in the winter I tend to hunker down, play guitar and eat and drink too much.

What do you love about the cooler-weather seasons and the holiday time of year here on the East End?
I love the change from summer to fall. The brilliant tree colors are a trip to behold. There’s also a certain kind of light on the East End when the sun is lower in the sky that, to me, is unique and different. I believe the sense of smell is the most privileged of them all, and there’s always a scent of wood burning in the fireplaces out here that gives me that feeling of being home. Whenever I smell a fireplace burning I’m transported back to the East End, no matter where I may be.

What is your favorite holiday movie or TV special, and why?
I have two: The Grinch That Stole Christmas, because I’ve seen it 100 times with my grandchildren and watching their faces as they watch it is priceless, and It’s a Wonderful Life, for all the right reasons.

What is the best kind of holiday cookie?
One that pairs well with red Burgundy.

You have a glass of your favorite wine in-hand. What is your toast for the holiday season and the new year?
“Champagne for my real friends…and real pain for my sham friends. Happy holidays and a Prosperous New Year!”

For more on Tom Schaudel, visit tomschaudelchef.com. Get tickets and more information on Dan’s Holidays in the Vines hosted by RG|NY at HolidaysInTheVines.com.

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