What Do Chefs Really Think of Turkey?

By Channaly Philipp
Channaly Philipp
Channaly Philipp
November 10, 2016 Updated: November 22, 2016

Ever wonder how chefs feel about turkey? Seven chefs tell us what they really think about the bird:

(Courtesy of Savona)
Andrew Masciangelo. (Courtesy of Savona)

Well, it’s not pork. I’ll take an old fashioned made with Wild Turkey bourbon instead.
—Andrew Masciangelo, co-owner and executive chef, Savona, Gulph Mills, Pa.

Alex Harrell, chef-owner, Angeline, New Orleans, La. (Courtesy of Angeline)
Alex Harrell. (Courtesy of Angeline)

I really don’t care for turkey during Thanksgiving at all and never really have. I’d much rather cook and serve something else. In the past, we’ve done whole roasted snapper, rabbit gumbo, roasted pork, and leg of lamb.
—Alex Harrell, chef-owner, Angeline, New Orleans, La.

Richard Torres. (Courtesy of The Continental)

I love turkey especially when it is treated like “lechon.” I know, it sounds crazy! The basic seasoning for Puerto Rican lechon is fresh garlic, sun-dried oregano, black peppercorns, salt, and extra-virgin olive oil, all made into a paste using a molcajete or pilon. When you apply this seasoning with the addition of delicious smoked bacon to a turkey, you have created what Juanadinos like to call “pavochon,” or turkey pig. I can’t ever have enough of it.
—Richard Torres, executive chef, The Continental, Miami, Fla.

Jason Hotchkiss. (Courtesy of Encontro)

I love turkey. I do recommend researching where your turkey came from. I look for cage-free, organic-fed, and cruelty-free turkeys. Leftover turkey is my favorite, for sure.  
—Jason Hotchkiss, executive chef, Encontro, San Diego, Calif.

Thomas Perone. (Courtesy of Primal Cut)

I love turkey, but I think it is very important to brine [it]. When done correctly, turkey can be beautiful. And if for some reason you botch the turkey, just go for the dark meat. The dark meat is the best part!
—Thomas Perone, executive chef, Primal Cut, New York, N.Y.

Brian Bajon. (Mike Buck)

I love turkey! Smoked, fried, baked, stuffed—you cook it and I’ll eat it, but I gotta have some cranberry sauce with it. And not the fancy homemade stuff. I love the cheap, straight from the can, gelatin-style cranberry sauce with my turkey.
—Brian Bajon, executive chef, Barcadia, New Orleans, La.

Justin Pfau. (Courtesy of Harold’s Cabin)

Holy triple-backflip, I Turbo-Love turkey. Real turkey. Roasted turkey. Braised or confit. I enjoy putting it on the menu during the non-holiday season, and although the sandwich is the most commonly accepted context for turkey, it can be a much more versatile ingredient.
—Justin Pfau, executive chef, Harold’s Cabin, Charleston, S.C.