Alibi V.16 No.45 • Nov 8-14, 2007 

Holiday Grub

The Nontraditional Thanksgiving

T-Day with a twist

Sam Etheridge's favorite food of all time is turkey and gravy. But nothing's ever quite that simple for Etheridge, the chef/owner of Ambrozia Café and Wine Bar and the forthcoming Nob Hill Bar and Grill. His trademark is to create upscale versions of down-home cooking. "Last year I did a roasted turkey, but I stuffed foie gras under the skin," he says. "I do a traditional green bean casserole but make my own portobello mushroom soup and use fresh green beans. I make my own onion rings to put over the top instead of buying the canned ones."

This year Etheridge will cook up a pumpkin bisque with braised duck. For the most part, he dreams up recipes while walking the aisles of the grocery. "I go by what's in season and what I can get at the time," he says. "I base it off my shopping. I'll go to the store and figure out the menu based on what they have." He’s been a chef for 15 years, so he can make it up as he goes along—and the finished product will likely be something diners delight in consuming.

Like other mortal chefs, Etheridge looks up the cooking times for his bird in a book. And there are some Thanksgiving items that shouldn't be messed with. "A lot of it is based off what my mom made when I was growing up," he says. "Like I couldn't do Thanksgiving without homemade rolls, and I use my mom's recipe for that."

Cranberry Sauce with Grand Marnier

Etheridge says you've got to have fresh cranberry sauce at your Thanksgiving table. He's made this recipe so many times, he knows it off the top of his head.
Makes 12 servings


1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup of sugar
Zest from 1 orange
3 ounces Grand Marnier liqueur
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups of water


1) Place your ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan. (There's no particular order, says Etheridge.) Cook at a medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the sauce from heat and allow to cool. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve.


Pumpkin bisque

Pear and spinach salad

Braised duck

Cranberry sauce with Grand Marnier

Pistachio brittle cheesecake