What America’s Food Billionaires Are Serving For Thanksgiving

Food & Drink

Think Velveeta, pomegranates and Marie Callender pies.

By Chloe Sorvino, Forbes Staff


All you need to replicate the traditional Thanksgiving morning enjoyed by Lynsi Snyder, the In-And-Out Burger billionaire, is a vehicle — she uses her late dad’s 1979 GMC Sierra — a few hours of rain and an off-road place to do doughnuts in the dirt.

Snyder calls it “mudding,” and the spree of wild driving is part of her holiday every year. She’s gotten stuck a few times, and the mud tends to splatter on her face, and it’s only after she’s experienced a little woo-hoo behind the wheel that she’s sufficiently ready to sit down for the holiday meal.

“I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday not because of the food but because I love being together with people,” Snyder told Forbes. “I’ve had a lot of loss in my life so having people around and spending quality time is my love language.”

This year, Snyder’s table, at the Northern California ranch she inherited from the father who died when she was a teenager, will feature ham, brisket and tamales. In years past, her holiday meal has been themed — traditional turkey or a Mexican fiesta or Southern-influenced, in honor of her mother’s Arkansas and Texas roots.

Snyder said her favorite part are the pies. She particularly relishes pumpkin pie and the French apple pie from Marie Callender — the one with the streusel on top.

Feel free to picture the billionaire chief of a vast restaurant empire swinging by the local supermarket for a $10.99 Marie Callender pie. When it comes to Thanksgiving, it turns out that food-industry billionaires aren’t that much different from the rest of us.

It makes sense that Lynda Resnick, the billionaire cofounder with her husband Stewart of Wonderful Co., which popularized pomegranate juice, would delight in turkey stuffing made with the exotic fruit. It’s fitting that Judy Love, whose Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores made her a billionaire, would carry on a tradition of cooking with the young ones that now extends to her great-grandchildren. Or that Joe Grendys, the Koch Food billionaire, has a special recipe for an appetizer that’s filling enough to be a meal on its own.

A Little Velveeta

The Grendys household starts its chowdown around 1 in the afternoon with the treats, which no one in the family has ever named. It’s a combination of browned ground sausage, browned ground beef, a little onion and melted Velveeta cheese. A tablespoon is dolloped on a Keebler wheat cracker. The loaded crackers are placed on a cookie sheet and set under the broiler for a minute or two and served on a tray. They’re devoured.

Sandwiching the otherwise traditional holiday meal for the Grendys are fudge ice cream parfaits, which began as a little something-something for the youngest family members to enjoy but turned out to be so good that somehow they were never dropped from the menu as everyone grew up.

Resnick became known as the Pomegranate Queen after she started juicing pomegranates grown on Wonderful Co.’s California farmland — and now her Thanksgiving stuffing features the ruby red jewels. Her Pom Wonderful juice adds moisture and zestiness to the stuffing, and the little pomegranate arils add a burst of sweet to the mixture.

“Thanksgiving has a special meaning for us because it’s when Stewart and I celebrate our wedding anniversary,” Resnick said. “It’s also when we mark my father’s birthday, who passed away a few years ago at the age of 98.”

Stuffing is also a must for the Love family. The recipe dates back to the 1960s, when Tom and Judy Love were first starting a family. Their children helped them pull the bread into pieces each year, and that continued with each generation. This year, Judy Love’s great-grandchildren will be shredding the bread.

Some entrepreneurs opt for a vegan menu, like kombucha pioneer GT Dave, who slipped off the billionaire’s list last year. His menu for 20 is set to include acorn squash stuffed with mushroom rice, purple sweet mashed potatoes and pumpkin sheet cake.

Turkey Baster

Caulipower founder and Forbes 50 Over 50 lister Gail Becker, who also dropped off the Self-Made Women list last year, told Forbes she’s been hosting the holiday for 20-plus people for years. One menu item, the caramelized Brussels sprouts, “has a wonderful origin,” she said.

“I first tasted them at the Soho House and called the manager to track down the recipe,” she told Forbes. “They kindly sent the recipe, but it was for 500 people and in English units of measurement. Fortunately, I’m married to a Brit with a Ph.D. in chemistry who could translate. After all that work, I figured the dish should be a permanent fixture.”

It’s not a type of food that has the greatest resonance for Becker. It’s a kitchen tool. Some years ago, she had a 30-year-old extremely worn turkey baster passed down from her mother that she thought needed replacing.

“At the store, my then-10-year-old son took the new baster out of the cart and said, ‘Mommy, you can’t get rid of our old baster. It holds so much tradition. Think of all the good tastes still in it from past Thanksgivings. It just keeps making the turkey better and better.’

“And with that, the new tool went back on the shelf and each time I use that well-worn baster on my extra-large bird, I’m reminded of the importance of tradition and the powerful insight of children. Here’s hoping that overworked kitchen utensil — and the spirit behind it — stays with all of us for many generations to come.”


Lynsi Snyder

In-and-Out Burger billionaire

MAIN COURSE

Ham

Brisket

Tamales

Potatoes and yams infused with cinnamon and cloves and topped with marshmallows

Smokies with BBQ sauce

DESSERT

Pumpkin pie

Marie Callender’s French apple pie


Joe Grendys

Koch Foods billionaire

WEDNESDAY EVENING

Pizza from Villa Napoli in Chicago

THANKSGIVING DAY

APPETIZER

A combination of browned ground sausage, browned ground beef, a little onion and melted Velveeta cheese on a Keebler wheat cracker

MAIN COURSE

Turkey

Bread stuffing

Mashed potatoes

Gravy

Sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecans

Cottage cheese pierogi

Vegetables

Dinner rolls

DESSERT

Special recipe cheesecake

Family chocolate cake

Pumpkin pie

Fudge ice cream parfaits


Judy Love

Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores billionaire

MAIN COURSE

Turkey

Gravy

Stuffing

Mashed potatoes

Green bean casserole

Cranberry sauce

Fresh bread

DESSERT

Pies


GT Dave

Kombucha pioneer and former billionaire

MAIN COURSE

Vegan, gluten-free cauliflower soup

Vegan, gluten-free kale persimmon salad with pecan vinaigrette

Vegan walnut sage patties with vegan gravy (from the Naked Bite recipe)

Vegan array of root vegetables

Acorn squash stuffed with vegan mushroom rice

Vegan purple sweet mashed potatoes

Roasted Brussel sprouts

Gluten-free vegan mushroom stuffing

Paleo gluten-free vegan cranberry sauce

DESSERT

Vegan pumpkin sheet cake


Gail Becker

Caulipower founder

GLUTEN-FREE MAIN COURSE

Turkey

Mashed potatoes

Mac and cheese

Caramelized brussels sprouts

Cauliflower with brown butter, pumpkin seeds and lime


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