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As family and friends gather during the holiday season, what are some of the favorite foods poker players are filling up their plates with? We caught up with Jeremy Ausmus, Shannon Shorr, ‘Boston’ Rob Mariano, Felipe ‘mojave14’ Ramos, Vince Van Patten, and Mike Sexton about their favorite holiday eats.
“I grew up on this family recipe of homemade rolls that are phenomenal,” Ausmus, a WSOP gold bracelet winner with more than $6 million in live tournament earnings, said. “I think it’s about all I ate as a kid at holiday dinners. Now, I make them. Fresh out of the oven, with butter – nothing is better.”
Shorr recently relocated to Las Vegas from Alabama, and we’re hoping he packed the recipe for his aunt’s holiday dish that was his all-time favorite because it sounds like a great one.
“Growing up in Alabama, my all-time favorite holiday food had to be sweet potato casserole that my Aunt Pat made,” Shorr said, “It was loaded with all the things a 14-year-old boy loves: pecans, chocolate, marshmallows. Unfortunately, I can’t get away with eating like that anymore.”
Mariano, winner of Survivor: Redemption Island for $1 million who now frequents poker events around the world, does not disappoint when it comes to his family’s holiday meals. It’s a two-day affair across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day featuring some delicious-sounding menu items.
“I’m Italian, so there’s no shortage of food around my house during the holidays,” Mariano said. “Christmas Eve is usually reserved for seafood – everything from lobster to crab and the traditional Italian-style salted cod dish called Baccala. Then on Christmas Day, we always have some type of macaroni with a special homemade red sauce (gravy) and usually eggplant Parmesan, which is my wife’s favorite.”
Ramos, a Brazilian, is also accustomed to large holiday meals with family, but a recent lifestyle change has caused him to switch up from one holiday favorite to another.
“Talking about tradition, my favorite food was always whatever my Grandma was cooking,” Ramos said. “In Brazil, we are very attached to the family tradition, especially because we are Christians, so this date means a lot to us. As the world’s second-largest meat producer (behind the USA), we are meat lovers and tradition always told us to have a turkey at the table and many more meat options. Recently, like two-and-a-half years from now, I have been trying to go vegan, knowing of the problems that meat production are causing to the world, and much more. I have made my transition to veganism now and I still love my family and friends, but my favorite meal is not meat anymore. My favorite foods are nuts and dried fruits, truly. I love all kinds, especially cashews and walnuts, figs and apricots. Roasted cauliflowers are part of my favorite meal, with a lot of spices. I think that will be my favorite holiday food from now on.”
For Van Patten, the energy behind bringing the World Poker Tour TV show into homes every single week, he said his family mixes it up but that he enjoys a little traditional simplicity.
“We mix it up, but for tradition, it’s turkey, dressing, popovers, and gravy,” Van Patten said.
Van Patten’s former longtime partner in the WPT commentary booth for 15 years, Sexton, said he and his family enjoy doubling down on their Thanksgiving feast but with a little bit of a twist.
“My favorite holiday food is Christmas dinner, which is the same at our house as Thanksgiving but we usually substitute ham for turkey,” Sexton said. “Mmmmm!”
Do you have a favorite holiday food? Let us know by commenting on this article or tweet to us at @PocketFives. Don’t forget to share the recipe so we can cook it up ourselves! Happy Holidays!
*Photos courtesy of Run It Up and the World Poker Tour.