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Dallasites Share Their Favorite Memories and Dishes of Thanksgiving

Pie and football. Not a terrible strategy for 2020.EXPAND
Pie and football. Not a terrible strategy for 2020.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
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This year as we give thanks with our nuclear units, we might find ourselves reflecting on years past, when we lived outside a quarantine bubble. Remember the year we all did the mannequin challenge? Or that time your siblings laughed at you when you singed your eyebrows checking the gas on the stove? Who needs them anyway?

With a touch of nostalgia in mind, we cast a large net over the city to ask Dallasites about their favorite Thanksgiving of years past and that one dish they'll absolutely flip a table over if it’s not on the menu. In no particular order, here are some memories and favorites:

Adam Bazaldua

Dallas City Council member


What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
Growing up in a multiracial household, Thanksgiving was always something that was exciting at my mom’s house because of the diversity of guests that attended. We called it the United Nations of Thanksgivings that just happened to be in DeSoto, Texas. It was always something to be thankful for, to look around a house full of 50+ people of different races, religions, sexual orientations and backgrounds that I all call family. One specific memory was when we all joined hands to pray before starting our meal. The prayer circle was throughout three different rooms of held hands and bowed heads when we heard a loud noise, and my dog, Buddy, managed to bring down the entire ham from the serving table while everyone was distracted in prayer.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
My favorites would have to have a savory and a sweet category. Savory: Britney’s [Bazaldua's wife] version of her grandma’s dressing for sure. Sweet: Aunt Pat’s toll house chocolate pie with an unhealthy serving of Cool Whip.

Sarah Elias

Marketing manager of Foxtrot Market

What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
Traditionally, my mother has a very Southern spread. Many years into my parents' marriage, my East Coast father asked if he could make his mother’s New England-style stuffing to add to our Thanksgiving meal. My mom’s reaction was that she was appalled. She couldn’t believe after 30 years of marriage he wanted to rival her very Southern cornbread dressing. New England stuffing certainly wasn’t going inside her turkey. Ultimately, it was a hit and every year since has made it onto the table with a slight rivalry between the North and the South. When I asked my dad why he waited so long, he said, “Timing is everything, my dear."

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
I shouldn’t put this in print, and I really hope my parents don’t read this but, it’s still cornbread dressing.

Matt Balke

Chef & owner of Encina


What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
One of the best Thanksgivings I have had was four years ago. I decided to host Thanksgiving at Bolsa (now Encina) for staff and neighborhood friends that didn't have family in town or that couldn't make it home. I thought it would be around five to 10 people, but about 30 showed up. We decorated and set up a huge family-style table that filled the entire dining room. We ate family-style and drank great wine telling story after story. My girlfriend, Corey, also made eight pies, which ended the evening perfectly. Will always go down as one of the top holidays for me.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Easy, stuffing with sausage. I believe that using cornbread and crusty white bread is a must too. Best of both worlds. And good gravy. And good mashed potatoes. And you can keep the deviled eggs because they are just vile.

With a late November birthday, sometimes catcher Jose Trevino gets presents and all the food he wants.EXPAND
With a late November birthday, sometimes catcher Jose Trevino gets presents and all the food he wants.
Texas Rangers

Jose Trevino

Texas Rangers


What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
I think my birthday would have to be the craziest thing just because I was able to get gifts and eat all the sides I wanted. (Trevino's birthday is Nov. 28.)

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
My mom makes this broccoli, cheese and rice dish that is so good, and I felt like we only had it once a year and it never failed.

Palmer Fortune

Owner of Palmer’s Hot Chicken


What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
My favorite Thanksgiving memory was mine and Amanda’s first Thanksgiving with both of our boys alive. Palmer was almost 2 and Russell had just been born.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Green bean casserole and honey-baked spiral ham.

Katie Beal Brown

Founder of Lone River Ranch Water


What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
When my sister brought her now-husband to the ranch to meet the family for the first time. He was born and raised on the East Coast and showed up in Converse sneakers. From the hog hunts to the dune buggy rides, I thought for sure we'd scare him away. He embraced it all, and we now joke he acts like more of a Texan than the rest of us.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
A Greenberg smoked turkey from the family-owned company in East Texas. It's something that will be missed on many tables this year after the catastrophic fire they experienced at the beginning of November. My heart goes out to their family, and I look forward to supporting them for many more Thanksgivings to come.

Kevin Lillis

Partner at Hospitality Alliance


(JAXON Beer Garden & Kitchen, Rise & Thyme, The Exchange Food Hall Downtown Dallas)
What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
I got engaged to my wife, Janna, on Thanksgiving in the heart of the recession (2008). Like for a lot of people, things were extremely tight financially, so I had a conversation with Janna the week before that I couldn't afford a ring, never mind a wedding. I asked her father for his blessing the night before, so he cleared the way for us to take a walk after dinner/before dessert. Her sister yelled out the door that we didn't help with the dishes, and I surprised her at a spot in the park that I had picked out, but the light there was burned out, so she didn't know what the ring looked like until we got to the nearest streetlight.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Mashed potatoes with ground rosemary, thyme and some Parmesan (and around 10% of the skins left on for texture). They've become enough of a staple in our house that our son was shocked the first time he had mashed potatoes without little green specks in them; he took for granted that they just came that way.

Jon Alexis

Owner of TJ’s Seafood & co-owner of Malibu Poke

What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
As a teenager I had my wisdom teeth removed over Thanksgiving. I could only eat the mashed mushy dishes. ... Those are still my favorite to this day

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
My mom often makes East Coast-style oyster dressing with big, plump oysters. White bread stuffing over cornbread stuffing every time.

Eric Wilkerson

Co-owner of Tacodeli


What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
Growing up in Dallas, pretty much every Thanksgiving was spent at Texas Stadium cheering on the Cowboys followed by a big feast at home post-game. I loved going to those games, braving the cold weather and hard plastic seats working up an appetite.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
My favorite Thanksgiving dish is a vegetable casserole that my mom used to make, Southern-style, so it was more butter, cheese, cream of mushroom soup than actual veggies.

Nikky Phinyawatana

Owner of Asian Mint


What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
There was this one Thanksgiving that I relive every Thanksgiving in my head and most likely on my Facebook memories, and it’s not about food. It happened a few years ago during the mannequin challenge era. We visited my 87-year-old meemaw in rural Texas and while we were in the dining room waiting to get our Thanksgiving lunch, my brother turned on the infamous song “Black Beetles” rap song and EVERYONE, from my 87-year-old meemaw to my 4-year-old daughter was told to stand as still as a mannequin. I was amazed at how effortless it was for 15 people to just stop when we were all ready to eat, eat, eat.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
I can’t live without pecan pie. Absolutely would cry if it wasn’t made, so I make sure I make it or my mom makes it.

Jalen Brunson

Dallas Mavericks

What's one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
My favorite memories always come from being around my family. Having my family around is amazing because you don’t have to worry about the things you need to get done or the stressful things on your mind. Just show up, enjoy the time with your family and friends, and eat.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
My favorite dish from Thanksgiving has to be the stuffing. From childhood to now, it’s the dish I always look forward to.

Kate Weiser

Owner of Kate Weiser Chocolate

What is one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
I'll never forget when my dad and my uncle attempted to fry a turkey for the first time out in our backyard. They built this huge contraption to safely lower the bird in, but it still ended up overflowing and hot fryer oil ran down the sloped backyard and everyone was screaming. It was great.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Green slime: One of the grandkids coined the term because that's exactly what it looks like. It's a pecan sugary crust, a layer of cream cheese and whipped cream, and then a layer of pistachio pudding. It's not Thanksgiving without green slime.

Time to dust off the family secrets in the coookbook.
Time to dust off the family secrets in the coookbook.
Michael Peticolas

Michael Peticolas

Owner of Peticolas Brewing Co.


What is one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
Much like the Griswold’s, we host and invite the whole family, both my side and my wife Melissa’s. The parents-in-law could not be any more different. Mine are formal, timely, punctual and expect everyone else to value time in the same manner. Melissa’s are free and easy, not worried about start or ending times for anything, and go with the flow. My mom’s patience and tact run in shorter supply with each passing year, especially with concern to her ability to cope with the stress factors generated by the in-laws.

Cue scene: The family is nearing Thanksgiving dinner time. My mom’s blood pressure is rising consistently throughout the day as we near mealtime. Fluster and frustration abound as she painstakingly herds all family members together for the premeal blessing. At last, the family is gathered together and bow their heads to say thanks. Fifteen seconds into the blessing and bam … Tony Basil’s "Oh, Mickey" begins playing at full level on the phone of my father-in-law, who also happens to be named Mickey.

My father-in-law is hard of hearing, so the volume level was shockingly loud and in classic Mick fashion, he demonstrates zero initiative to move quickly to silence the phone. Or perhaps he didn’t know how, but it didn’t matter. With each passing note, my mom’s face became a deeper shade of red until she could no longer take it and yelled, "turn off the damn phone." Her anger [was] only matched by the hilarity the rest of us saw in the moment. So tense. An instant classic Thanksgiving moment that many of us (barring my mom of course) have laughed about every year since.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Our family has had the same cranberry salad every Thanksgiving and Christmas since before I was born, and the tradition continues to this day. My mom put together a family cookbook late last century and included the recipe. Interesting notes: My mom spellchecked the entire book prior to publishing, except apparently the cover, and the cookbook became the stuff of legends. The recipe also references the origin of the recipe and includes my Thanksgiving/Christmas turkey cooking notes, including the uncomfortable tradition of naming our turkey. The salad is fantastic, looks amazing and is undoubtedly the dish that most represents the holidays for the Peticolas clan.

Scottie Red-Eye

Dallas DJ


What is one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
No Thanksgiving terror stories to share.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
I’ve always hated the traditional “Thanksgiving meal." So every year my mom always makes special things for me that I will actually eat. Her broccoli-rice casserole is the best in all the land.

Erin Hannigan

Principal oboe, Dallas Symphony Orchestra


What is one of your most prominent Thanksgiving memories?
I think one of my funniest Thanksgiving memories was the first year I decided to invite a few of my college students over for dinner. They couldn’t travel home over the short break, so I thought we should all celebrate together.

Tuesday of Thanksgiving week I asked for dietary restrictions from the group, thinking it wouldn’t change my menu plans too much. Well, I was suddenly hit with the reality that I had a vegetarian, a vegan, a pescatarian, two gluten- and dairy-free preferences and a shellfish allergy coming to dinner.

I quickly announced that we were going to do Thanksgiving as a “potluck” and, I have to say, the results were fantastic.

What Thanksgiving dish reminds most of your childhood and why?
Stuffing: I usually make a gourmet version for Thanksgiving dinner these days, but I also make a small side of Stove Top because, as a kid who wasn’t crazy about turkey or green beans, that was THE BEST thing about Thanksgiving dinner.

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