Photo courtesy of David Vartanian

Celebrate a Vintage Press Thanksgiving


VISALIA, Calif. — Every year, Chef/Owner David Vartanian and his staff prepare an extraordinary Thanksgiving Dinner at the Vintage Press Restaurant in Visalia. The Vintage Press ( is one of Central California’s most prestigious dining destinations. Since 1966, the Vartanian family has welcomed local residents, visitors and dignitaries alike on special occasions and for holiday celebrations. “From the beginning, we have endeavored to offer a classic dining experience balanced by genuine charm and civic purpose. As the founder of several cultural events in Visalia, we savor our role in the community. And as the venue for many exceptional moments and celebrations, we cherish the ability to make every occasion memorable for our guests,” says David. (

As summer fades, the restaurant’s staff looks toward the bounty of the autumn harvest to showcase a new season of flavor. With four unique and distinct dining rooms and curated menus that reflect the season, David and his family invite you to experience a Vintage Press Thanksgiving.

Wine Spectator writes The Vintage Press has “one of the best wine lists in the world,” while Fodor’s raves it is “the best restaurant in the Central Valley,” and the Los Angeles Times applauds it as “a bastion of culinary merit.”

The Vintage Press has received noteworthy accolades and honors throughout its history – David was voted one of the Best Chefs in America ( And David’s Whole Baby Pumpkin recipe, a holiday favorite, is featured at the American Pistachio Growers’ website:

“The Thanksgiving season is a festive time,” says David. “Many of our friends and family return each year to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner with us, and they always have a wonderful time. While some first-time cooks at home may worry about cooking their own turkey, it’s really not that hard,” he adds. “If you’re a novice in the kitchen, stick to the essentials: turkey, dressing, a fresh cranberry sauce, potatoes or rice, gravy and a vegetable of some kind. The key to not overcooking your turkey is always using a meat thermometer to check the temperature. And, avoid the turkeys that come at a bargain price. If you can, always buy a fresh turkey. A good turkey will make all the difference for your next holiday meal,” he adds.

Here are two of David’s favorite holiday recipes:

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Sausage and Apple Dressing


1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cups chicken or turkey stock

12 cups sourdough bread croutons, toasted

2 cups diced yellow onions

1 cup diced fennel

2 cups diced celery

2 cups fresh Granny Smith apples, diced

6 ounces cooked sausage

2 teaspoons coarse salt

1/2 tablespoon fresh cracked pepper

2 tablespoons chopped sage

1 cup roasted pistachios


Melt the butter in a heavy pan, add the onions, celery and fennel. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat. Add the sausage with its juices, apples, croutons, and mix well. Season the mixture with salt, pepper and sage. Add the pistachios and stock, and continue cooking for 8 to 10 minutes.

If you are going to stuff your turkey, completely refrigerate the mixture at this point before stuffing. If you are not going to stuff the turkey, place a lid on the dressing and place in a 325 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes, then serve.

Makes about 10 cups.

Traditional Roast Turkey with Giblet Gravy


1 14-to-16-pound turkey

Coarse salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 medium onion, sliced

1/2 fennel bulb, sliced

1 cup celery, sliced

6 sprigs fresh sage

1/2 cup melted butter, more to taste


Turkey stock:

Turkey neck and giblets

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 quart water


In a medium saucepan, combine the neck and giblets, onion, celery, carrot and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Strain stock.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Rub the turkey with salt and pepper. Season all cavities and under the skin. Fill the cavities of the bird with the onion, fennel, celery and sage. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan and brush with melted butter. Cover the pan with foil. Roast the turkey for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Baste the turkey regularly during the roasting process. Roast the turkey uncovered during the last 45 minutes. When the thigh is pierced with a fork, the juices should run clear. When the turkey is completely done, transfer it to a carving board and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

Make a roux by combining 3 tablespoons flour with 3 tablespoons melted butter. Pour the turkey juices into a bowl and skim off the fat. In a saucepan, combine the turkey stock with the pan drippings and bring to a boil. Thicken the gravy with the roux and season with salt and pepper. Slice the turkey and serve with all the trimmings.

Serves 12 to 14.



Tempting desserts are a Vintage Press specialty.

PRE-ORDER YOUR VINTAGE PRESS THANKSGIVING DINNER: For the holiday, plan to enjoy a 4-course prix fixe menu featuring fresh, all-natural roasted Diestel turkey and a host of traditional trimmings plus many Thanksgiving favorites a la carte; boxed to-go or enjoyed inside. Call for information and reservations.

The Vintage Press Restaurant

216 N. Willis Street

Visalia, CA 93291-6006

Phone: (559) 733-3033

Open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday Brunch

*The Vintage Press Restaurant has received accolades from the nation’s restaurant and wine enthusiasts, and is credited for featuring one of the best restaurant wine lists in the world. In addition to The Vintage Press Restaurant and Catering, David co-owns Jack and Charlie’s, The Southern Pacific Depot, and Le Boulevard Coffee Market — all located in Visalia.

For David’s recipes featured in The Armenian Mirror-Spectator Newspaper, see:




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