Chef Andrew Zimmern shares tips for a downsized Thanksgiving

NEW YORK (AP) — No big family gatherings. No munching on your aunt’s famous apple pie or cousin’s stuffing. Turkey Day 2020 is going to be a lot different.

Enter chef and TV food personality Andrew Zimmern, who has tips on how to navigate a feast during a global pandemic. “This is going to be a Thanksgiving like no other we’ve ever had,” he says.

Zimmern has teamed up with AARP for a free live streaming cooking demonstration and question-and-answer session Thursday called “AARP Presents: A Caregivers Thanksgiving.” The one-hour event will be available AARP’s site and Facebook Live.

A four-time James Beard award-winner, Zimmern has a reputation for eating just about anything as host of the Travel Channel’s series “Bizarre Foods.” This time, its all about downsizing for smaller gatherings.

Instead of a whole turkey, Zimmern will teach viewers to roll, stuff and tie a boneless turkey breast, plus make gravy even without drippings. He’ll offer two easy side dishes and show how to make a pie for two or four people without rolling out a pastry dough.

“I’ve spent 25 years in magazines, newspapers, TV, websites, everything, telling people here’s how you take that green bean casserole recipe and make it for 16 people. And now we’re doing the reverse,” he says.

Most Thanksgivings, you can find Zimmern busy in the kitchen, preparing a feast for two dozen guests and another dozen or so people who stop by. This year, he’ll be cooking just for two. “This might be the Thanksgiving where we all regain our culinary sanity somewhat,” he says.

That extra time is something he wants viewers to channel into thanking caregivers. In addition to helping raise his own child, Zimmern took care of his three parents during the last 10 years of their life and knows the value of checking in on and connecting.

“This caregiver’s Thanksgiving is a way to say thank you and just show support to the literally millions of caregivers who have looked after family members and friends throughout the pandemic,” he says. “They are truly special people and they often are left out of that conversation when it comes to first responders.”

This Thanksgiving comes as more than 240,000 Americans have died and millions have been laid off. A survey by AARP found that more than half of family caregivers reported feeling sadder about the holiday season. “This is the first holiday where we are celebrating family where many families have lost a loved one,” Zimmern notes.

While many families may choose to connect via Zoom on Thanksgiving Day, Zimmern knows they often get chaotic and some people may feel sidelined.

“One of the things that we miss at this time of year is that personal one-on-one connection. And we forget in our digital age how important a handwritten note or a one-on-one phone call is,” he says.

He urges families to reach out to neighbors or to drop off dishes to the lonely and help with simple chores, like taking an overwhelmed friend’s dog for a walk.

“If there are elderly folks in your neighborhood, there’s nothing wrong with taking a handwritten note and sticking it in their mailbox or sliding it under their door. There’s contactless ways to tell people that you’re thinking of them.”


Mark Kennedy is at

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