Having moved to Manhattan's Upper East Side over 25 years ago, Boulud's cafes and restaurants pepper New York City. For all the elaborate recipes he may use in his restaurant kitchens, Boulud says he gets the most pleasure from home cooking, or what he calls the "one pot, one pan" meal.
"It connects me back," he said. "Rather than do a complex dish with 20 ingredients and five hours of prep and all that, I like the soul of home-cooking."
The world-famous chef also says he sits down with his family every Sunday for a dinner together, and that he makes sure he is never tardy to a meal no matter where he's eating. These sentiments coincide with values nearly everyone shares at Thanksgiving.
"All my life, I never missed a meal or missed the time of a meal. You cannot come 15 minutes or a half-hour later. You just have to be on time for the meal, because it's a ritual that's so important and sometimes it's a little forgotten here," he said.
Executive chef Dan Barber has built a successful business around his belief in farm-fresh ingredients long before it was popular, and the food on his Thanksgiving dinner table is no exception. His favorite dishes for the special day include mushroom-hazelnut stuffing and spicy cranberry sauce.
CLICK HERE for step-by-step instructions to Barber's recipes.
However, the award-winning chef said that when it comes to Thanksgiving, it's the effort behind the meal that's the most meaningful, not the food on the table.
"I don't think the food, ultimately, is the most important. And as a chef, I probably shouldn't be saying that, but it isn't the most important," he said. "The reason for that is 'cause again it's about this context -- you know, to what extent are you creating a taste memory, and memories just in general of being with your family, and memories that stay with you for the rest of your life."
Barber grew up working on his grandmother's Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Mass., and now operates two New York restaurants in the farm's honor. A place where Barber said his family's Thanksgiving traditions were born, the family farm has been preserved as later generations have worked to create Thanksgiving memories for the next generation.
"Thanksgiving -- from the American point of view -- is this one holiday where food is central and food gets that context that feels very powerful," he said. "Thanksgiving for me wraps in all of the things that I think a good restaurant tries to provide every day of the year -- celebration and continuity and tradition and delicious experience."