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Celebrating the Holidays with Food


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With the holiday season in full swing, we can’t wait to make and eat delicious holiday food! Whether you’re preparing a family recipe or sitting down to enjoy a meal with loved ones, food is central to the culture and tradition that surround holiday celebrations.

We asked some of our SAGE Team Members about their families’ food traditions and what recipes they’re most excited about this season.

Do you cook the meal, or do you let others prepare it?

More than 90% of the SAGE Managers said they do the cooking for the holiday meal with family and friends!

What’s your most memorable holiday food tradition?

Staci Jones, Food Service Director (FSD) at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in California: My mom’s homemade cranberry sauce! She made it for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was so different from everyone else having the canned, jellied sauce. Also, her homemade turkey soup and fresh-baked bread to go with it! (My mom has now passed, but I keep the cranberry sauce tradition going!)

Jeffrey Shevenock, Assistant Food Service Director at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Maryland: My family will have a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner. One of the most memorable parts is my son and I doing dinner prep. On Christmas Eve, we’ll make 125-plus perogies from scratch.

Nilda Rodriguez, FSD at The Berkeley Carroll School in New York: My family gathers annually to prepare pasteles. We’re from Puerto Rico, and pasteles are a holiday favorite usually served from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and afterward. They’re made with a puree of mixed tropical root vegetables traditionally stuffed with pork but sometimes chicken, wrapped in a banana leaf and parchment paper.

Dusantha Pathiranalage, Executive Chef at Sisters of Divine Providence in Pennsylvania: In Sri Lanka, we make fruitcake for the holidays. It’s so much fun to make because it literally takes two weeks to prepare it. We soak assorted dried fruits and nuts in brandy for nine days.

Kim Young, Human Resources Director: I’m not a chef, but my sister and I have an ongoing corn pudding battle. She puts a ton of sugar and other stuff in hers with the resulting texture and color resembling something other than corn! Mine is less sweet and perfect. Of course, the kids all love hers and the adults prefer mine. So, we make both every year.

Which foods are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

Trent Harrison, Executive Chef at The Gow School in New York: Christmas cranberry meatballs are always a holiday favorite among my family and friends, and I made cilantro honey lime flank steak with grilled jalapeño cheddar cornbread last year that’s been requested again.

Robyn Kunze, FSD at Phoenix Country Day School in Arizona: My kids always want me to make fancy desserts, especially yule logs. I also plan on making some traditional South African food.

Rylan Snodgrass, a District Manager in Texas: We’re roasting a goose and looking forward to this very much!

Marko Penich, a Culinary Support Team Member in the Western region: Our family rule for any occasion is we must have two types of meat served. I enjoy changing up cooking techniques each year: roasting, smoking, rotisserie, frying, etc. But my favorite thing to cook is a bone-in prime rib.

Erica LiVolsi, General Manager at The Hun School of Princeton in New Jersey: Each year my three children and I make our own gingerbread houses that we display proudly (no matter how horribly they turn out!) and then break off little pieces to nibble on until someone catches us in the act. It’s always fun to blame the “holiday elves” that visit our home for those missing gingerbread pieces! My chef husband smokes brisket and makes a delicious mac & cheese, and I’m in charge of all the desserts. I look forward to the smoked brisket every year!

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Sweet & Savory Holiday Cheese Board

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One-On-One with Food Service Director Hope Walker

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