Suffolk’s top chef shares his tips for cooking the perfect Christmas lunch

Suffolk’s top chef shares his tips for cooking the perfect Christmas lunch

Lee Bye, the Chef-Patron at the award-winning boutique hotel and restaurant, Tuddenham Mill, will be hard at work at the stove this Christmas delivering the various culinary treats he’s got lined up for his lucky guests staying at Tuddenham over the Christmas period.

Despite his heroic dinner schedule in the lead up to the busiest period of the year, Lee has taken time out to reveal his top tips for cooking the perfect Christmas Day dinner.


If you’re the cook in the house, take a few minutes to research how to cook a turkey classically, the priority is to ensure the turkey remains moist, with a beautiful crispy skin.  You don’t need to wake up in the early hours to get the turkey in the oven! just weigh it, preheat the oven to 170C and calculate 20 mins per kilo + 90 minutes.


Game can be a great alternative to turkey at Christmas.  A true treat in the colder months, the versatile darker and richer meat can make for a luxurious lunch and works well with the typical festive trimmings.  Chestnut stuffing is a must for this dish.

Roast potatoes

It’s all about the roasties for me. People tend to just throw them on the side of the plate and worry about the meat as the main event. But roast potatoes deserve a spotlight all of their own. Ten minutes before you take them out of the oven, spread a big spoonful of salted butter over them. It’s the perfect finish, trust me.


Good, fresh, seasonal produce will always shine through.  Shop locally at an independent grocer as close to the day as possible – the veg will taste even better if you have to wash some soil off!  Your local vegetables may not look like something you’d find in your local supermarket, they might be misshapen or a different colour, but I can guarantee they will be tastier.



Brussel sprouts

Sprouts are the ‘Marmite’ of Christmas day, you either love them or hate them.  But maybe you just need to convince those haters by cooking your sprouts differently.  A roasted sprout is delciously sweet and crispy.  Caramelise with olive oil, a generous pinch of coarse sea salt and half a lemon.  Delicious.

Bread sauce

My mother’s nutmeg overloaded bread sauce is amazing.  Always make your bread sauce yourself, don’t use packets or jars!  The real thing is the best, you really can’t beat it.

Use slightly staled breadcrumbs from the best quality white loaf you can find.  Freshly grated nutmeg and good seasoning is an absolute must.

Prepare ahead and serving

Ensure you have measured ingredients at the ready when you are preparing to cook, it is always so much easier to have everything at hand.

Whilst I wouldn’t deny any cook the opportunity to taste the food whilst cooking (for seasoning purposes obviously!), don’t overdo it.  We all know what it’s like it’s like to cook the dinner, then feel too stuffed to enjoy the end results!

Allow the guests to serve themselves, it is so much easier for the chef to decant the food into large bowls, place on the table…… then let your guests loose!


My family and I will be enjoying the odd glass of Prucia Plum liquor this Christmas.  It is a delicious fusion from French and Japanese cultures, creating a sweet and flamboyant aroma.

This is a real treat after a beautifully cooked dinner.

If you’re looking for a getaway this Christmas, Tuddenham Mill’s two-night package for two people, which includes Christmas lunch, starts at £760. Or, if you want to escape to the country after a busy Christmas, consider a very special ‘Twixmas’ stay.  Visit the website to find out more.

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