Liza Shaw's Thanksgiving Essential: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Categories: Holiday Meals
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SFoodie's series asking some of our favorite San Francisco food people about the dish they just can't celebrate Thanksgiving without.

Every year, A16 closes for Thanksgiving Day, and chef Liza Shaw is as thankful about that as anyone. "If you stay open for Thanksgiving," she says, "you're expected to serve turkey and the whole spread, and that doesn't lend itself well to Southern Italian food." So SFoodie asked Shaw what she cooks on her day off. The answer: not much.

Shaw: Every year everybody expects the chef to do a full spread, but I'm in charge of the following items:

1. Champagne.
2. Oysters.
3. Pumpkin cheesecake.

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Liza Shaw takes Thanksgiving off. (Well, mostly.)
I take care of those things. It's our tradition to begin the Thanksgiving meal with oysters and Champagne ― or this year I'm bringing prosecco. Depending on where the meal's being held and when, it might begin with Bloody Marys as well.

Pumpkin cheesecake has been something my family has made for years, and I can't live without it. I can't remember a time when it wasn't part of the meal. The recipe probably came from a Gourmet magazine years ago, and my mom appropriated it as her own. It has a gingersnap, pecan, and brown sugar crust, and a bourbon sour-cream topping.

My parents live outside Baltimore, so Thanksgiving for me here is a bunch of restaurant people. A bunch of people from A16 usually get together. We move around but we stay together. This year, I'm celebrating it with some new people. There's a pastry chef coming, and I believe she'll be making pies, but she knows about the pumpkin cheesecake.

Other Thanksgiving essentials in this series:
-Jonathan Kauffman's Brussels sprouts with prosciutto
-Jun Belen's stuffing balls
-John Birdsall's braised turkey legs with polenta
-Roger Feely's relleno negro
-James Freeman's wonky turkey roasting, lots of coffee
-Marcia Gagliardi's giblet gravy
-Irvin Lin's green bean casserole
-Bridget Batson's steak, then stuffing
-Russ Moore's sticky rice and Chinese sausage stuffing


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