Suzanne Goin

Owner of Los Angeles's acclaimed Lucques, Goin continues to earn accolades for her novel preparation of the produce of the season. Having always been drawn to cooking, she worked in restaurants even while attending Brown University and studying abroad in London.

What snack would you leave on a plate for Santa Claus, to really tempt him?

Some really silky soft triple-crème cheese with a few slices of jamón or prosciutto, a few nuts and dried figs, and a big glass of a good red wine.

What one dish is always on your holiday table?

Glazed sweet potatoes with bacon and romesco.

Describe a holiday food memory from your childhood.

One time, we were trying to turn the turkey, and it flew out of the pan and across the kitchen floor. Just at that moment, my dad's best friend walked in, looked at us and said "I see nothing," and then walked out! We put that bird back in the oven and never said a word.

What chef from the present or past would you choose to be your personal chef?

Chris Bianco from Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix.

What is your advice to future chefs?

Work in a restaurant first - to make sure it is what you really want to do … much of the work is repetitive, grueling, and decidedly not glamorous. You have to love cooking, food, and being in the restaurant environment so much that it outweighs all the negatives.

What is your biggest time-saver in preparing foods?

A sharp knife!

When you give a party, what is on the menu?

Once a year, we do a big barbecue and soft-shell-crab party.

What do you prepare at home for yourself and for your family?

Nothing! Well, coffee and tea - and sometimes toast or fruit if we are on a good roll. And on our day off, pasta with butter or a cheese plate for a snack or dinner.