As we prepare for the holidays this year, we reconnected with some of our favorite insiders, including guests on the most downloaded episodes of Melissa Biggs Bradley’s weekly SiriusXM radio show and podcast, Passport to Everywhere.
See below for the inside scoop on their top tips for hosting, favorite dishes to serve (plus recipes!) and travel memories they’re grateful for.
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is best known for revolutionizing maternity fashion after she founded Liz Lange Maternity in 1997 and is now the CEO and Creative Director of luxury women’s label Figue.
“No matter how many people you are trying to serve—in my case, it’s always a big number—your food will taste great as long as you have lots and lots and lots of piping hot gravy to pour over everything.
Skip hors d'oeuvres. You are serving a huge, heavy meal. There is no need to feed everyone prior to it! Plus, it makes your life easier which is always a win. I'm all about the side dishes, particularly the stuffing. We like a very traditional one, nothing fancy—a homemade version of “Stove Top” with chicken broth, eggs, sage and cubed bread.
We have our family and friends at our house in East Hampton every year, and one of our favorite traditions is pre-dinner games. It's not fancy, just old-fashioned fun.”
As the hugely successful beauty mogul behind the lifestyle brand AERIN, Aerin Lauder says that when it comes to hosting, more is always right.
“During the holidays, I always say that more is more. I love this time of year because it is all about bringing together many generations of family and close friends. My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is the barn dinner we have in the country every year.”
the founder and creative director of La DoubleJ, the Italian-based fashion house, says, “After 22 years in Italy my Thanksgiving parties have morphed from an eight person, over-rehearsed, rigid affair to a boisterous party with up to fifty people roaming around my home. My number one tip would be to take a page from the Italian playbook and just go with the flow. Try to create as much ease, joy and fun around the evening as possible. Don’t be a stickler for details. It’s not as much about the aesthetic presentation (although that always helps). It’s really about creating the right atmosphere and I think the right atmosphere really comes from the host or hostess themselves. I’m here to have a good time, and I’m not gonna sweat the small stuff.
Beyond that, of course I care about creating very fun festive tablescapes with layers of pattern and print, but even there I’m more relaxed. We’ll use all of our La DoubleJ glasses and I’m totally okay if not all of them match. Some people will have wine glasses, some people will have water glasses, some people will have goblets. I’m more interested in a great display of all the colors.
My friend Riley’s mother’s secret apple sausage mushroom stuffing is my go to. I’m sworn to secrecy on the exact recipe but the secret is to use apple and orange juice instead of broth.
One of my favorite winter salads is an easy crowd pleaser. It’s endive, radicchio, apple, gorgonzola, walnut, and pomegranate. Just throw that together with some red wine vinegar, a little bit of umeboshi vinegar and a sprinkle of dill.
If you want a very special, very Italian recipe I love the radicchio and pancetta pasta from the River Cafe in London. It’s incredibly comforting during the holidays.”
is a Rome-based culinary guide and educator, award-winning cookbook author, and Emmy-nominated television host of the travel series “Katie Parla's Rome.” She also hosted Indagare’s Craving Italy: An Italian Cooking Club. Find her recipe, “Best Stuffing Ever,” here.
“My tip as an expat is to find someone to import fresh cranberries for you. I’ve been searching for them for 20 years, and it’s the only ingredient I have been unable to find.
If you happen to be in Italy, mentally prepare your Italian guests for what awaits them. Inform them that the stuffing is not the primo but rather goes on the plate alongside the turkey (secondo in Italian terms) and all the sides (contorni) and that gravy can go anywhere.”
, co-founder of the legendary boot camp retreat, The Ashram, grew up in Sweden and is a transplant to the American Thanksgiving tradition.
“My number one tip is to focus less on the food and more on giving thanks,” she says. “As far a food, try something new, and host a plant based Thanksgiving dinner. At The Ashram, we serve a delicious white yam soup with arugula salad and miso buttered toast.” See the full recipe below.
and his wife, Agatha Capacchione, are the couple behind the Delicious Hospitality Group (DHG), laying claim to New York’s beloved, Charlie Bird, Pasquale Jones and more. They also co-hosted Indagare’s Journey to Puglia last month. It is no surprise that the highlight of their Thanksgiving isn’t the cranberries or the stuffing, but rather, the pasta.
Their Thanksgiving blends Ryan’s American traditions with Agatha’s Italian heritage. “One of our favorite parts of the meal is the pasta course,” Ryan says. “But in our case, it’s two pasta courses. We make fresh ricotta gnocchi with sweet potatoes, brown butter and sage–a fun, seasonal spin on our Gnocchi Rosa, Agatha’s mom’s recipe which has been on the menu since day one at Charlie Bird. One of the best parts is that cutting and shaping the gnocchi becomes a family affair, and we can do it with the kids. The second pasta is a homemade tagliatelle with turkey and sausage Bolognese. See the full recipe below.
Read about Ryan’s Top Tips for Puglia after a recent trip.
“One trip I loved this past year was my first visit to Mexico City. The city was incredible; I loved the art, food and shopping. The Barragan house was filled with inspiration and Contramar was perfect for a late lunch.
Catharina Hedberg: “I went to Japan to experience the Kumano Kodo ancient pilgrimage to scout a new program for The Ashram. It was amazing!!”
Ryan Hardy: “Whenever we can, we escape to Mexico; last year we went to Punta Mita with some friends who also have a young family. It was an incredible chance to recharge and reconnect with our family and it was made extra special with friends, saltwater, sunshine and the abundance of flavors in Mexico. We rented a beautiful villa on the water and can’t wait to return.”
JJ Martin: “The highlight of my year is going on the annual spiritual journey that I do in Egypt with my friend, the high priestess Dee Kennedy, where I teach. It’s become so fulfilling to watch the incredible transformations that happen with each participant. Even though I’ve gone three times, there’s always something new to learn. Egypt is powerful to begin with, but if you go with an intention and an awareness of the frequency and consciousness that is embedded with these sacred sites, then it’s a triple whammy.
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