Eat With Your Eyes First

By: Matt Armendariz

When planning the same holiday year after year, how do you keep your celebration fresh and interesting while maintaining a sense of tradition? We asked our favorite bloggers and food people to share what's inspiring their Thanksgiving planning this year. From ancestor's recipes and falling leaves, to beautiful piles of ingredients and thoughtful home decor, there was no shortage of imagination. See what motivates some of the most creative minds we know, and then start planning your annual feast.

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday at our house, because it’s a time for us to give thanks for all the joys of the year. We are thankful for friends, family, our work, being alive, you name it. We love it so much that we usually host two Thanksgiving meals: a pre-run that we call Friendsgiving, as well as a giant meal on the big day. Yes, it’s double the work, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Even though we celebrate twice, my inspiration and goals for the meal are the same: to create a visual bounty that’s in line with amazingly delicious food. Since I’m a big believer in eating with your eyes first, my table is always thoughtfully planned out around a theme. Last year was a delightful mixing and matching of colors and textures, while this year will be about jewel tones with a focus on purple and orange. These colors have always been so regal and special to me, and they complement the browns and deep greens of the food itself.

Perhaps it’s a subconscious thing, but when I think of a very deep purple I’m immediately transported to the color of Pinot Noir and the inky-dark color of a Beaujolais Nouveau. They both signify Thanksgiving to me since I’m usually pairing them with a turkey and all the savory sides at my table. For pops of color, I’m always happy with orange, from deep burnt shades to bright, happy citrus tones. If it’s orange I love it, and I try to incorporate it at the table through napkins, flowers and leaves.  While those are my main colors, I still try to sneak in pops of jewel-blue hues in muted shades, along with gold flatware, which really rings “holiday” to me.

While I’m usually a no-nonsense kinda guy during the year (give me utility above everything else), the holidays are such a wonderful time to slow down, reflect and create a table that’s just as special as the food we are serving.

For more Thanksgiving ideas, visit our Thanksgiving Inspiration Board Gallery.

Matt Armendariz is a writer, photographer and food blogger. His first book, On a Stick! was released this year and he is currently writing his second.

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The co-star of the hit series Heat Seekers and Food Network AND rsquo;s Chopped Aar AND oacute;n Sanchez is the executive chef and co-owner of Centrico Restaurant and Mestizo By Aar AND oacute;n S AND aacute;nchez. He is also the culinary visionary behind Tacombi Tacqueria and Crossroads at House of Blues.

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