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Academy of Culinary Arts Chefs Share Holiday Entertaining Tips

December 14, 2012

From décor to dessert, the experts from Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts share their favorite holiday entertaining tips and recipes.

Just in case guests stop by for a visit, Chef Linda Wohlman of Absecon stores the following items in her pantry and refrigerator throughout the holiday season: cans of nuts, three varieties of good cheese, apples, dried fruit, crackers and candies like Hershey’s Kisses and M&M’s.

“For centerpieces, I use natural, holly, pine cones, pine tree branches, dried vines from the garden or fruit such as whole oranges and nuts still in the shell,” Wohlman said.

Mom’s Pecan Pie is a holiday staple for Chef Bruce Johns of Marmora.

“It’s a classic Pecan Pie, but while most recipes have a solid filling, Mom’s recipe was moist, velvety and crunchy.”

Chef Joseph Sheridan of Ocean City recommends stocking one’s bar with red and a white wine during the holidays.

Chef Vincent Tedeschi of Northfield serves Super Tuscan wine to his guests.

“It’s full-bodied, fruity and tastes great with meats,” Tedeschi said.

Chef Suzanne Feye of Linwood purchases holiday table décor on clearance and at the Dollar Store, while Chef Daniel Matt of Mays Landing bakes his own décor. Chef Matt blends cinnamon, allspice and applesauce together to make edible Spiced Christmas Tree ornaments and gift toppers.

“These holiday treats are not only fun to decorate, but they are delicious and aromatic,” Matt said.

Chef Jon Davies of Cape May organizes serving stations throughout his home to alleviate traffic jams. Davies also serves Hot Buttered Rum that’s second to none.

“Years living in ski areas taught me to embrace the warm winter beverage,” Davies said. “A far cry from the horrid powdered mixes, vanilla ice cream adds a little richness and decadence to my Hot Buttered Rum recipe.”


Pecan Pie

Chef Bruce Johns

Pie Crust

1 cup sifted flour
1/3 cup cold lard
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp cold water

1.) Mix flour and salt together in a bowl. 

2.) Cut the lard into the flour with two knives until the mixture is lightly combined and has few crumbs. 

3.) Add water and mix with fork and form into a ball.  Let rest for 30 minutes in refrigerator. 

4.) Roll out and line a 9-inch pie dish.

Pie Filling

1/4 cup butter, melted and then cooled
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
3 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

2.) Melt butter and cool. 

3.) Beat eggs with sugar and salt until foamy and well blended. 

4.) Add corn syrup, vanilla, and cooled butter; blend well; stir in pecans.

5.) Pour into shell.

6.) Bake 40-50 minutes. 


Edible Spiced Christmas Tree Ornaments

Chef Daniel Matt


5 oz ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp allspice, ground
10 Tbsp applesauce

1.) Blend cinnamon into applesauce a little at a time to make thick dough. 

2.) Roll out to approximately 1/4-inch thick*.

3.) Use the cookie cutters or cutouts to get shape of ornament.
4.) Make a small hole at the top of the ornament for hanging or insert a paperclip at the back before baking*.

5.) Bake ornaments on screen or wire-type material in oven set at 150-200 degrees for 2 hours. The ornaments need to bake slowly and they will not rise.
6.) After cooling, decorate with ribbons, beads, etc., for a really fun and fragrant Christmas ornament.

*If the dough is rolled out too think the ornaments will break.

*You can also sprinkle flour on the ornaments before baking to simulate snow.


Hot Buttered Rum

Chef Jon Davies


2 sticks butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup granulated brown sugar

1 pint vanilla bean ice cream

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch clove

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 shot dark rum

Cinnamon stick


1.)   In saucepan, melt butter and stir in sugar.

2.)   Cook until sugar dissolves and mixture caramelizes, stirring constantly.

3.)   Add spices.

4.)   Fold in ice cream and stir until it dissolves.

5.)   Refrigerate mix.


1.)   Heat glass coffee mug.

2.)   Stir in 3 Tbsp mix plus one shot of dark rum.

3.)   Top with boiling water.

4.)   Garnish with cinnamon stick.

 The ACA, located at Atlantic Cape’s Mays Landing Campus, has been training future chefs and food service professionals for more than 30 years. For more information about the Academy, call 1-800-645‑CHEF, e-mail or visit