Merry Christmas!

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. There is always a festive feeling leading up to Christmas from the Christmas music, stringing up lights, and holiday decorations. It doesn’t help that I live in one of the most picturesque Christmas towns, Excelsior.

Excelsior in winter Christmas, Klondike dog racing

Back when I was a young child, my grandmother always threw the most extravagant Thanksgiving dinners. The entire family would gather at her house, eat a massive dinner, attempt to figure out how to turn on the most complicated TV for an hour then the grandkids would run around the house playing games with one another.

Naturally, when I became a more experienced cook, it was my turn to take the reins for Christmas. You’ll soon find that I talk a lot about my family traditions and experience with cooking. Some of my fondest memories of the holidays and cooking center around my family, who are more important than anything else to me.

I’ve always prepared large Christmas dinners and tried to invite as many people as possible during the holidays. It wasn’t till last year, 2019 when I truly went all out. Everything was planned down to a T. The tablescape was planned months in advance, the cooking process took multiple days, and was timed on a schedule down to the minute. I even went so far as to collect spring water and make special ice cubes that were completely clear. As you can probably tell… I take Christmas VERY seriously; some would say a little… ok, significantly… over the top. But I don’t do it for unique Christmas pictures or compliments; I do it to make those who attend, happy.

five course French Christmas dinner menu

My goal is to always make each dish I make, each Christmas party I host, the best anyone’s ever had. If my guests leave with a full stomach and a smile on their face, my Christmas was a success.

To put on such an event, I had to go to great lengths in 2019. The new tableware had to be bought, I had a Gammon, an uncooked ham commonly eaten in England, special ordered from a butcher in Minneapolis, and it was all hands on deck in the kitchen. Everything was strictly from scratch and made the day of. You should have seen me running around in the kitchen, chef coat on, and managing the entire stovetop along with multiple desserts in the oven. In the end I really put myself through the paces to see what I could do.

Immediately following Christmas 2019, I feverously began working on Christmas 2020. I wanted to bring myself back to traditional cooking and thus began work on a French cuisine menu. I decided on a five course menu, starting with a humble Soupe à la Bonne Femme, Oranges en Cointreau, Poulet sauté archiduc, Fromage, followed by the most amazing Mille-Feuille or Gâteau aux Crêpes au Chocolat.

bread butter and knives, Mise en place

Or for us native English speakers, a humble potato and leek soup, oranges in liqueur, chicken thigh with a creamy brandy veloute with my secret bouquet of herbs, a selection of cheeses, and puff pastry with cream, raspberries, and a raspberry lime coulis or a chocolate crepe cake. Many of the recipes used or inspiration I received was from the late 1800s!

The entire dinner was followed by a selection of traditional French cookies and la Chocolat Chaud- a very rich Parisian hot chocolate.

I once again put myself through the paces this Christmas. As usual, a new tables scape had to be designed along with a massive grocery list and timeline. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, a large Christmas party was not possible, and many family members could not make it. So, our party was only six people large on Christmas Eve.

cranberry and candle table decorations

And so, to make as many people happy through my cooking this Christmas, I did what I’ve never done before. I began selling a few of my most requested items to those around me. Orders started to come in slow but grew almost exponentially in a day or two. I was inundated with orders!

I bought cake boxes, wrote extravagant thank you letters signed with calligraphy and sealed with a wax seal. Everything was again done to the highest standard. I woke up early and went to bed late to fulfill every order on time. It was a lot for one person to fulfill especially since every order from hand made from scratch.

From a five-course French dinner that was an absolute success to special holiday orders, I’ve had my work cut out for me. I’ve enjoyed every second of the stress because I know I’ve made someone’s holiday all the more memorable. I hope and pray that I made Christmas all the more remarkable for those around me.

I think now it’s time to sit back, drink a steaming cup of hot chocolate and watch the flames in the fireplace dance about. It’s time to spend time with my family and be grateful for the amazing friends and family around me.

Have a very Merry Christmas,

Chef Olson

“The Flying Chef”

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