The Christmas or “Chrissy” season Down Under is never the iconic “White Christmas” from the carols and holiday movies. December 25th is the same date around the world, but it’s smack in the middle of summer in Australia! We found a chap with a similar challenge in our mate Chef Thomas Horner, Executive Chef of the JW Marriott Palm Desert Resort as he gears up for the holiday rush. If you see Santa at his hotel, he’s probably wearing shades and a Hawaiian shirt.
What does the holiday party season look like at the JW Palm Desert?
It’s a challenge, because in December in Palm Desert, it doesn’t look anything like Christmas. Most people that come to us are looking to escape winter weather, so we don’t try to fake it. It’s interesting though, no matter the weather, people still want the traditional holiday foods. We do a ton of all-day brunch buffets, and carving stations are always a hit. We start planning six months out at our property; we do “Christmas in July” to look at what we can improve upon from the prior year, and come up with new ideas.
Your fig and lamb stew recipe is the kind of dish that’s great for holiday parties; where did the idea come from?
The fig stew was completely inspired by my backyard! I had figs and meyer lemons popping on the trees, and it’s actually a traditional Moroccan pairing. It’s the kind of dish that’s very impressive to your guests, but you can put it in a slow-cooker all day, come home and finish it off with some garnishes, sprinkle on some chopped roasted almonds, and you’re done.
There’s also the lamb t-bones with beer, that’s quickly becoming a fan favorite. We noticed that it calls for a full bottle of beer, but you don’t use it all in the recipe. How does that work?
Oh, you caught that? That recipe is for that moment when you see lamb at the store and know you can just take it home and put it together quickly. You crack a beer, drink a little, pour a little in the pot, drink a little, and so on. It’s a one pot wonder! Especially after a long day at work, any recipe you can drink a beer with is a winner in my book.
Two of our favorites, lamb and beer. Happy Christmas!