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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Moran

Inspiration for your holiday meal planning

J&K has partnered with renowned chef Leland Cummings in a special 2-part series highting chef-inspired trends, secrets and “pro tips”. Our clients enjoy some beautifully designed kitchens (and scullieries as highlighted in our recent Facebook post). We are excited to showcase some new and creative ideas you and your family can explore this Holiday Season!

The holidays are all about food. Every culture around the world celebrates the season with feasts near and dear to their hearts. When it comes to the home, the kitchen is where is all happens. The center of it all, where we prepare, gather, and feast.

While this year might consist of smaller gathering, your feast can still be full. We asked a local Cincinnati private chef, Leland Cummings, to tell us what he has on the menu for his clients this holiday season. Chef Leland says each meal should always start with appetizers and drinks. These two things break the ice and get things started, even among family. A go to appetizer, and always a crowd pleaser, is the charcuterie board. Not every charcuterie board is created equal, they can even have something for the whole family with a kid friendly board. In addition to the traditional meat and cheeses, Leland likes to include cut up PB&J sandwiches, pretzel sticks, lots of fruit and Nutella.

Another go to appetizer is assorted toasts. Toast is one of the most versatile ingredients in a holiday host’s kitchen. Popular toppings include brie with prosciutto, caramelized onion & goat cheese, and avocado with radish & pomegranate ariels.

Next let’s talk about drinks. A classic is the aperol sprizt. The addition of cranberry juice, while not traditional, adds some festive color to this drink. If you are a bourbon drinker like Leland, then a hot toddy will warm you right up. In addition, Leland says a bottle of bubbles is also fun and festive. For the main meal, Chef Leland is preparing three courses, sweet potato and pear soup, beef wellington, and a yule log. The soup is a nice warm alternative to salad. Beef Wellington and the yule log may sound challenging, but both are straight forward and impressive when prepared properly. If you wanted to stick with the current pellet grill trend, smoked brisket can be substituted for Beef Wellington.

The key to success for preparing a holiday feast is to be prepared. Anything that can be prepped ahead of time should be done so a day or two early to ease the stress of being in the kitchen all day while entertaining. Also, having serving platters and plates set out is very helpful.

A Philadelphia native and graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America Leland Cummings has coned his craft around the world and now calls Cincinnati his home, as owner of Occam Dining. Leland has worked alongside some of the world’s premier chefs and is a recognized leader in premier cooking competitions. Leland says his favorite part of cooking is discovering new and exciting ingredients and ways to utilize their beauty. Visit to learn more!

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