Connecting with Holiday Traditions

We all have traditions from childhood that have shaped the way we celebrate the holidays. This year Bi-Rite staff shared some of the holiday traditions they’ll rely on to help connect them with their memories and loved ones.

Remember those fancy glasses you drank out of on Thanksgiving as a child? Or following your grandma to the butcher counter while she hand-selected her Hanukkah brisket? Was your Christmas tree adorned with cakes and treats or delicate glass globes you weren’t allowed to touch?

We all have memories that are deeply ingrained in our hearts and minds from holidays gone by, and many of us have continued these meaningful family traditions as we’ve grown. So we asked some of our Category Managers, Owners, and General Managers to share the traditions they’ll be celebrating this year. And not surprisingly, we got warm, fuzzy, comforting feelings hearing about their families and happy memories. Hope you feel it too!

How are you connecting with holiday memories this year?


Jon Fancey – Category Manager, Cheese and Specialty Items

My grandma made a very specific type of cranberry relish, and to me, eating this relish is Thanksgiving. I make it every year. Actually, when I’d go to friends’ homes for Thanksgiving dinner, if they said “don’t bring anything,” I’d bring my relish anyway, because to me it’s just not Thanksgiving without it. Click here to see what makes Jon’s grandma’s cranberry relish so special.

Simon Richards – Category Manager, Produce

For the past 19 years I’ve been working in the Markets and order Thanksgiving dinner cooked by Bi-Rite. But I always make one Brussels sprouts dish from scratch. Sprouts are a crop I never ate growing up, I honestly thought they were gross. But then I started farming in my mid 20s and realized there’s nothing quite like the flavor of a freshly harvested Brussels grown in the cooler months. I’ve coined my yearly sprouts dish “Si’s Brussels Sprouts Extreme.” It’s different every year – I’ve sautéed, honey glazed, grilled and finished with citrus zest, baked with cheese and jarred Early Girl tomatoes from the summer, and I always look forward to making it. This year I’m going to… never mind! It’s a secret. Find me after Thanksgiving and I’ll tell you.

Ron De Leon – General Manager, Bi-Rite Catering & Commissary Kitchen

My mom always made these delicious, scalloped potatoes for Christmas when I was growing up in Guatemala. When we moved here, we didn’t know what to make for Thanksgiving (since there’s no Thanksgiving in Guatemala) so my mom started making the scalloped potatoes. Now it’s a Thanksgiving must-have instead of mashed potatoes. My mom taught my brother and me how to make it, and now we take turns every year. This year it’s my turn to make the scalloped potatoes. Since we won’t be gathering together, I’m going to make three dishes of the potatoes and deliver them to my mom and brother so we can still continue to enjoy the special tradition together.

Liz Rubin– Category Manager, Wine, Beer, and Spirits

I grew up celebrating at least one night of Hanukkah around my grandparent’s dining room table, with a meal served on my great aunt’s handmade lace tablecloth. This year their table is in my home for the first time, and I’m looking forward to lighting candles and feasting with my partner, dog, and the newest addition to my family, my kitten, Archie. It’ll be nice to be surrounded by heirlooms this Hanukkah, even if I can’t be with my family this year.

Kris Hoogerhyde – Owner, Bi-Rite Creamery

When I was little, I always looked forward to making pies with my mom around the holidays. She’d give me all the pie dough scraps and I’d put cinnamon and sugar on them and bake them. My love for cinnamon and pies has definitely continued, so each year I bake one pie in the glass pie dish that my grandmother, Rosalie, gave to my mom, and my mom passed down to me. This season I’m going to bake with my six-year-old son to remember my mom, and the love she had for her mother.

Cassie McKeown – General Manager, Bi-Rite Divisadero

My family is very spread out and really big, but we have two traditions that never change: cookies and sleepwear. Each year my mom spends two- or three-days baking Italian cookies, and either mails them or hand-delivers them to eight different families across the country. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, everyone mails each other their Christmas gifts with one marked to open on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve gifts are always pjs, sleepwear, or something to help you sleep (the result of which is that I have wayyyyy too many bathrobes). When Christmas Eve arrives, you’ll find me (along with the rest of my family across the country), curled up on our couches in our brand-new sleepwear, sipping hot toddies, Irish coffees, or glogg, calling each other and eating mom’s Italian cookies.

Steffan Morin – General Manager, Bi-Rite 18th Street

My favorite memories have been made over the past 15 Christmases. Every year I endeavor to execute the most complicated baking projects possible in the days leading up to Christmas. I’ve tried over and over again to make croissants (burned through), Swedish cringle (blows up in the oven and leaks marzipan everywhere), and brioche (flat as a pancake) among other things. This year I’m going to make stollen! I’ve finally gotten wise and have been recipe testing. So far, it’s going well which means this year I’ll be making a successful Christmas bake for the first time in 15 years.

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