Eat + Drink, Recipes

How I Stay Sane On Turkey Day: A Chef Shares Her Secrets


Chef and cookbook author Kim O’Donnel

Kim O’Donnel is a trained chef and author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations 

Here she shares six tips for staying sane in the kitchen during the holidays.

1. Don’t Fret. It’s a waste of energy and emotion to work yourself up into a pre-party lather. Before stepping into the kitchen, I actually meditate and/or practice a bit of yoga, or go on a solo walk.

2. Everyone Gets a Job. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but everyone who comes to our house for a big holiday meal gets a job: Setting the table, dish duty, carving the turkey, making gravy and so on. I’m done with the days of being the maid and not enjoying the meal.

3. Feed the Cook. Have a grilled cheese sandwich or a fried egg around noon for the cook; a little stove top nosh to keep up the energy level and provide a brief respite from the work.

4. Shower Zen. Allow time to rinse off in the shower before guests arrive. Sounds obvious, but it’s another way to get a “time out” before the noise begins.

5. Just a Sip. A sip of wine before the doorbell rings is very fine. Then a mindful pace with the pours. (That’s the idea, anyway.)

6. Give Thanks. I always initiate expressions of gratitude around the table before the first fork is lifted. I love hearing what’s on everyone’s minds and in their hearts at that given moment. Sometimes it’s a surprise.

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Kim ODonnel

Kim O'Donnel is a twenty-plus year veteran of the food world as a chef, journalist, and teacher. She has dispensed culinary advice and covered food policy for numerous publications including Civil Eats, the Washington Post, and USA Today. Kim is the author of three vegetarian cookbooks, including PNW Veg: 100 Vegetable Recipes Inspired by the Local Bounty of the Pacific Northwest. You can find her on Twitter: @kimodonnel and Instagram: @odonnelk