With Thanksgiving in a few days, many people are figuring out their last-minute plans. Will you cook for the gathering you’re headed to? Are you going to house hop with a few to-go containers? Will it be a Netflix and Cornish hen for one kind of night?
While some of us plan to spend the holiday with friends, family or solo, there are others who are spending their first Thanksgiving with a new boyfriend, fiancé or husband and feel the pressure. How much food does one prepare for two? What if you’re not that great of a cook?
We spoke with Chef Daniella Abraham, aka, Chef Danie, to help you out. The 31-year-old Miami-based celebrity chef has been throwing down in the kitchen professionally since 2007, and her dishes have made her a hit with her stacked clientele, including Drake, Diddy and Pharrell Williams. She knows about cooking out of love, because she learned that it was her passion through her mother when she was a kid.
“I fell in love with food, I fell in love with the experience, how it just makes you feel and of course how it tastes,” she said. “There are memories made around food. That’s when I found out I was passionate about it.”
Since then, she’s been creating Instagrammable meals ever since, including her acclaimed 24-karat foods and Chanel pancakes. Now she’s helping women make delicious dishes for Thanksgiving as part of her Feed Him Fall Movement. Don’t roll your eyes just yet at the name.
“We had Hot Girl Summer. We had our moment. Hot Girl Summer is more than what people thought it was. It’s honestly just honoring who we are and living life to the fullest. Girls being girls,” she said. “Well Feed Him Fall is more tapping into our sensuality and getting ready for loving season. I feel like there are a lot of people who are displaced, as in, they’re working in other states away from their family and there’s a lot of people who got hooked up because of Hot Girl Summer. You kind of want to switch up the movement where we start talking about love languages. With cooking, we tap into a few of those: the giving part of it, the attention. They’re feeling all of this and that’s pretty much what builds connections and brings connections to a whole other level.”
“It’s not like, ‘Oh my God girl you’ve got to get in the kitchen and cook for your man.’ That’s not the only way to keep a man, but it’s one way for you to build certain bonds with people,” she added. “Tapping into their psyche, and when you actually really care for a person, it’s nothing for you to just try.”
Whether you do it for love or because you want to impress your man, cooking can be strenuous work either way. To clarify, Chef Danie says you should never feel pressured or forced to cook for a man. You should only do it when there is the desire to, otherwise, it will feel like a job.
“The moment that it feels like a chore, I tell people, don’t do it. Even me myself as a professional chef, in my relationships, if you make me feel like I have to do this as a duty, you might as well go call Uber Eats because I’m not doing it,” she said. “You have to want to do it for the person. You actually have to care enough to want to see the end result from them, whether it’s the satisfaction of the experience, the smile on their face, maybe that they were tired coming home from work and you put some effort into it. It’s creating a whole entire vibe.”
“It’s transference of energy. You’re pretty much showing them how you feel and love,” she added. “Unless you feel good about it and feel good about the person, don’t do it.”
For those who want to make a meal for their man that they won’t forget this Thanksgiving, Chef Danie says a “Baegiving” for two is all about tapping into what they know culturally.
“Whether they’re from the South or their background is African, as in from Africa, or they’re Caribbean or European, you want to make sure you tap into something they grew up with so they can feel comfortable,” she said. “Thanksgiving and these holidays are all about comfort. You don’t want to go with the typical stereotype of, ‘I have to go with a turkey because that’s what they grew up with.’ You really want to tap into something they can recognize that will make them feel at home and make that for them.”
She also notes that because a Baegiving is just two people, less is more.
“Instead of attacking a whole bird, you don’t need a whole bird because it’s just the two of you,” she said. “You’re either going to go for a chicken breast or go for a Cornish hen just so you can have that aesthetic. You can stuff the Cornish hen just as you would a turkey, you could brine it just as you would a turkey, and also it will get nice and brown and tender just like a turkey. It pretty much is something that taps into their psyche as a food that looks similar and tastes similar, it’s just a smaller portion of it. You can make the sides, minimizing the ingredients, but it’s the main entree portion that you want to make sure you execute well.”
While some people go into Thanksgiving with a wealth of cooking experience, not losing too much sleep or sweat over preparation, there are others who are novices at making magic in the kitchen. For those who don’t often cook or simply aren’t good at it, Chef Danie says keep it very simple and do your best.
“If you don’t cook often, I would stick to something simpler like quarters: chicken breast or something like that. If they’re of a particular culture and you can’t make exactly what they want, you want to go ahead and at least tap into the flavor profile,” she said. “You’re going to season things appropriately with the flavor profile of both of your demographics, as far as the background goes. It’s just really making sure the flavor is there.”
“I hate to say it’s not really about the outcome of the dish, but it is about the effort,” she added. “It’s like when I teach tons of women how to make meals at home. Even though they don’t execute it perfectly like I would have, their husbands, boyfriends, fiancés talk about ‘that one time.’ They talk about this for years to come because they remember the effort. It’s about tapping into something they’re familiar with. Familiarity just opens your heart on a whole other level and can hopefully bypass anything that you possibly burned [laughs].”
Chef Danie’s tips should do the trick, especially since she’s an expert of sorts when it comes to cooking for famous men. She knows the effort required and says that the end result makes it all worth it.
“I have to give them that sense of home because they don’t get it anywhere else. With that, it just comes with knowing the person and yourself,” she said. “You yourself have to be in the appropriate and good vibe to cook. Again, don’t feel like you have to do it to impress. Don’t let that be your exact goal or notion, but instead, you actually want to do this for him. You want to feel good about it. Once you feel good about something and don’t feel forced, everything will flow appropriately. My mother used to always say, ‘If you didn’t want to make this, you should have just said so, because I can taste it.’ Instead of letting that happen, take the time to make it, just go with the motions as you should and don’t feel pressured. That helps with the whole cooking process more than anything else.”
Follow Chef Danie on Instagram @ChefDanie.