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Main + Abbey chef creates Thanksgiving feast with a rock 'n roll edge

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SIOUX CITY -- During the Thanksgiving holiday, Kelly Bunkers will head over to a family gathering, hosted by his dad and with more than twenty of his relatives in attendance.

"Thank goodness it's a potluck," he said with a relieved smile. "I wouldn't want to do all of the cooking myself."

By the time Bunkers is ready for his family's Turkey Day feast, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Chef de Cuisine will have already prepared a gourmet spread for the high rollers at Main + Abbey.

"Thanksgiving is one of those classic food holidays," he explained. "At Main + Abbey, we've taken a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner, giving it a rock and roll edge."

Bunkers isn't kidding.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Main + Abbey will be serving up pomegranate molasses-glazed turkey breasts, garlic and herb-smoked turkey legs that are covered with a madeira gravy, a cabernet cranberry sauce, cheddar popover stuffing, along with a side of Boursin cheese-whipped potatoes and green beans.

Prefer something lighter? Guests may also order M+A's Thanksgiving salad, which consists of spinach, Asian Pears, toasted pecans, Brie cheese, a balsamic Vinaigrette and a dusting of pomegranate seeds.

But save room for dessert. Bunkers and dessert chef Ashley Carmen have created decadent sweet treats like smoked apple pie à la mode, a pumpkin turtle cheesecake and a dulce de leche crème brûlée, served with a chocolate twig, a sugar nest, whipped cream and fresh berries.

Bunkers said this year's turkey day feast is very different then the one he attempted in 2020.

"Last year, we had a prix fixe, five-course Thanksgiving meal that was a bit more labor intensive than it needed to be," he acknowledged. "This Thanksgiving, we have a concentrated menu where we can focus on the things we do well."

Which doesn't mean diners are limited to just typical holiday fare.

Indeed, M+A will still offer many of their signature appetizers, soups and salads.

Also, entrees like Main + Abbey's popular Chicken Marsala, St. Louis Ribs, and the Smash Hit Burger (two five-ounce Kobe beef patties, sauce, American cheese, peppered bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles on a Brioche bun) will be available.

Those wanting to give Tom Turkey a rest may enjoy an eight-ounce filet mignon, a 14-ounce New York strip or a 16-ounce ribeye steak for dinner.

Bunkers said he started planning his Thanksgiving menu months ago. They spend days prepping everything. 

"My day on Thursday will begin around 6 a.m. and get progressively busier," he said. "By the time our first customers come around at 11 a.m., it will be a blur. But when we served our last meals at 3 p.m., it will seem like the day went by in an instant."

If truth be told, Bunkers wouldn't have it any other way.

"Thanksgiving is a time when we can indulge ourselves with great food that can be shared with our families and friends," he said. "This is why comfort foods like turkey and potatoes and wonderful desserts are so popular for Thanksgiving."

As he and his staff continue their Thanksgiving prep work, Bunkers can't help but smile.

"You can go on a diet next week or next month," Bunkers said. "Even better, you can go on a diet in 2022. After all, the new year is just around the corner."

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