As Thanksgiving approaches, and we at the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel reflect on what we are thankful for, one thing stands out above the rest— we don’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year! Thanksgiving Dinner will be cooked by none other than our very own Chef Rob Carskie. If, like us, you become overwhelmed at the idea of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, have no fear! We sat down with Chef Rob and got him to share some of his tips for preparing the best meal. And, if all else fails, you are always welcome to share the Holiday with us; we will be serving Thanksgiving Dinner from 5pm to 10pm.
Chef Rob is a new addition to our Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel family and has been with us for four months. Today we spoke with Chef Rob about the upcoming holiday and were even able to tease some well-kept turkey day secrets out of him. Rob grew up just thirty minutes west of the Chicago’s North Shore in Park Ridge, IL. He credits his mom as his greatest influence in cooking, and candidly told us that the first real meal she ever taught him how to make was chicken piccata when he was in high school. He later used that same recipe to, what else, impress a girl. Chef Rob also credits his mom as being the biggest supporter of his career. Opting for a less traditional path, he attended University of Wisconsin-Platteville and graduated with a business degree. But it was his mom who, through encouragement and loving support, convinced him to turn a hobby he was passionate about into a career he loves.
Excited about this year’s Thanksgiving, he revealed with a chuckle “Usually I do the bird. I usually use a lot more spice than my family prefers.” When asked if he makes his turkeys the same every year he replied, “I’ve tried a couple different things. I almost blew up the house with a deep fryer once.” He then clarified “It was really windy, and we used a grate with a stockpot on it in the backyard to deep fry [the turkey]. The wind just kept knocking it over.” So yes, even professional chefs are just as susceptible to becoming a holiday statistic. His most unconventional approach to cooking a turkey took place a few years ago when he tried to Sous Vide a smaller bird. He does not recommend cooking your turkey this way since the air pocket in the center of the turkey isn’t conducive to cooking the bird, and it turns the stuffing to mush.
While Chef Rob loves to cook, the star of the show and his favorite part of Thanksgiving is something that we’ve never really given much thought to, the dinner biscuit. But then again, we don’t make our dinner biscuits from scratch with bacon drippings. We are crossing our fingers that this year he will make them for us here at the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel. Although Chef Rob prefers traditional Turkey day fare, he also likes to spice things up, and has “a good amount of Cajun food, because I love Cajun cooking.” As a lover of New Orleans, his holiday table includes, “beef gravy for the mashed potatoes, and then I’ll do a Cajun pepper gravy, and then maybe a little jambalaya or some etouffee.” Look for more Cajun temptations in other upcoming menu creations.
So, this year one of the many things we give thanks for is Chef Rob. We look forward to the delicious meals he has in store for us this holiday and in the future, and we want you to know that our doors are always open. You, your family and your friends are invited to stop by and have dinner with us and our family. We know you’ll love what Chef Rob’s got cooking.
Visiting Chicago this Holiday season? Reserve a room at the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel, and stop into our restaurant to see what Chef Rob is cooking up.