The Thanksgiving Meal: To Tweak or Not To Tweak

“It’s better than the usual Thanksgiving for sure,” Ben Puchowitz says of his family’s Thanksgiving. Any comparison with your family’s feast can be a bit unfair, especially when considering how the fruits of two of Philly’s most innovative kitchens can be impacting things here.

“Last year, he was pulling from a lot of Asian informed dishes we were doing at Matyson,” says Puchowitz, who’s been helming things at Cheu Noodle Bar across town. In addition to green beans with fish sauce vinaigrette, there was broccoli with Vietnamese sausage, and a cucumber salad with kimchi.

What is this, Asian Thanksgiving, someone blurted out,” he says.

In years past, Ben’s cousin Matt Spector and his pastry chef wife Sonjia—who helped open Matyson with Ben’s dad Butch Puchowitz—took part before they relocated to California.

“I fill the same role now. I come in around 3:30. I season and finish dishes and handle the gravy, some sauces. My dad’s up at 4a.m. to roast the turkey, but they know too well how early I’m up everyday to ask me to help with much,” he says with a smile.

Outside of the turkey and mashed potatoes, each year brings a reshuffling of side dishes, with recent standouts including spatzle with sauerkraut and bacon, a root vegetable gratin, and root vegetable stuffing. By the time Ben reaches his sister’s homemade ice cream—starting with soup and salad, the meal runs over two hours—he’s already got a beer and a spot on the couch lined up.

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