Mainstream culinary publication Bon Appétit just hired its first vegan recipe developer and video personality, Chrissy Tracey, and we immediately wanted to know everything about her. We are completely enamored by Tracey, not just for her fantastic food, but for her indelible sense of purpose to expand opportunities and plant-based nutrition to the masses no matter where they come from. We chatted with the chef about her childhood holiday traditions, veganizing the classics, and what’s on her Christmas menu this year. Be prepared—by the end of this article, you’ll be craving cookies and Jamaican-style cakes.
Treating every day like a holiday
Tracey was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist—a religion that does not place much value on holidays. In lieu of grandiose seasonal celebrations, her mother told her, “Every day you wake up is a new day to celebrate being alive and show gratitude.” Growing up in a modest home with six other siblings, Tracey recalled nightly family dinners full of conversation and laughter, a hallmark of most holidays.
Despite the family’s lack of organized celebration, Tracey’s mother did commend special events with her famous Jamaican carrot cake. She recalls, “It’s warm and gooey and has cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, brown sugar, and grated carrots. It’s her own iteration of Jamaican fruit cake, so it was always a treat for me to enjoy with some vanilla ice cream. I look forward to it every year.”
Adopting her own traditions
Over the years, Tracey has leaned into the more structured traditions of the holiday season. She claimed she could never go a holiday season without baking cookies. Her favorites include anginetti cookies, classic chocolate chip with vegan browned butter, and peanut butter blossoms inspired by the cookies she received as a child from one of her former neighbors. She’s also thinking about shipping cookies to her fellow Bon Appétit co-workers if she can find a way to protect them against the hazards of the post office.
Planning her Christmas menu
When asked what she has in mind for her holiday menu, Tracey answered with an ambitious list. Her spread includes her famous garlicky mashed potatoes; smoked paprika maple-glazed “ham” roast; apple, sage, and sausage-stuffed vegan roast; cranberry sauce; maple-roasted Brussels sprouts; roasted cauliflower; pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls; gnocchi Pomodoro; rice and beans (a Jamaican household staple); and her first attempt at a vegan Jamaican rum cake. Don’t worry, we’ve informed her that when she nails it, we must have the recipe for that cake!
Not stopping there, Tracey mentioned, “There will probably be a lot more, because I just got Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person book, and there are so many breads and desserts that I am dying to veganize!” She’ll also be enjoying vegan coquito—Puerto Rican eggnog—throughout the entire holiday season.
To see her holiday menu come to life (and for a bit of visual food seduction), follow Tracey on Instagram at @eatwithchrissy.
For more, see Tracey’s origin story interview here.
Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.
Photo credit: Chrissy Tracey
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