5 Holiday Questions for ACF National President René J. Marquis, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC


1. What signals the fall season for you?

Living in Florida, we definitely don’t have the beautiful fall foliage and chilly air that I used to see growing up in New England. But I know it’s fall around here because it’s my wife’s (ACF Chef Vanessa Marquis, CEC, AAC) favorite season; she decorates the house in fall colors and the pumpkin flavors are in everything at home — from cereal to pancakes to coffee, creamer, covered pretzels, candles, even Febreze. Kidding aside, the other thing that signals the holidays for us is that we always participate in volunteer efforts to feed local veterans and we volunteer at Metropolitan Ministries.

2. It’s almost time for Thanksgiving; how do you celebrate the November holiday?

Most of the time it’s here at our home. I prepare a traditional turkey and a smoked turkey with sausage and sage stuffing with Bell’s seasoning, as well as an herb and apple stuffing, and gravy with gizzards with all the drippings. We also make mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans almondine, carrot and rutabaga mash, maple-bacon Brussels sprouts and cranberry-orange relish. We also make from scratch a pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, Dutch apple pie, pecan pie and Vanessa’s chocolate cream pie and carrot cake. Yes, neighbors always come with to-go boxes.

3. Sounds like holiday baking is a beloved tradition for your family — do you have a favorite baked dessert?

Cheesecake. Any flavor you want. The latest my wife had me make for her
was apple cobbler cheesecake. The cheesecake was layered with apple cobbler and extra caramel sauce drizzled on top.

4. Many people have traditional holiday recipes passed down through generations. Is there a special family recipe you cherish and enjoy making during the holidays?

I make meat pies every year as my grandmother taught me. I miss those moments. Vanessa and I make tamales for her family tradition to eat on Christmas Eve. For the last 11 years, I have made Chinese dishes on Christmas Day!

5. The holidays often involve large gatherings and feasts. Can you share a memorable or funny kitchen mishap that happened during a holiday meal preparation?

The biggest mishap is that we ran out of room in our refrigerator so we put some of the extras in the fridge at our neighbors’ house and we forgot about it! That night they called us and said we forgot the green bean casserole and the sweet potato pie. There was so much food we didn’t even notice! Our neighbors enjoyed the extras.

Originally published in the Nov/Dec 2023 issue of National Culinary Review. Click here to read the article.