Holiday desserts with a British flavor

Ritz-Carlton Chef Mark Payne shares family favorites
(RELEASE) One of his family favorites is Mincemeat Pie, a popular British dessert typically served around the holidays. Because the name contains "meat" a lot of people don't think of them as sweet, but they are. Mincemeat -- is a preserve that contains apple, dried fruits, raisins, spices, and in Chef's Payne's recipe, shredded beef suet. The beef ingredient is what makes this dish so interesting.

Mincemeat Pies are also said to be the favorite dish of Father Christmas.

The Chef has brought this London tradition to the Ritz in Chicago, where they serve miniature mincemeat pies among some of other holiday desserts, including Christmas Pudding and Sticky Toffee Pudding. You can enjoy them at the Ritz, or make them at home using Chef Payne's recipes.

The Cafe at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago - A Four Seasons Hotel -- is a perfect place to dine during the holiday season -- located right in the Ritz-Carlton Chicago at Water Tower Place. For more information about holiday dining, contact The Ritz-Carlton at 312-266-5160.


Born in the United Kingdom, Ritz-Carlton Chicago Executive Chef Mark Payne became interested in cooking as a teenager after watching his older cousin in the kitchen.

He began cooking weekly meals for his family and with his parent's encouragement; he followed his culinary interest to Catering College outside London.

Payne, a 12- year veteran of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, has been perfecting his culinary skills for the past three years at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, following stints in the kitchens of Four Seasons Hotels in Nevis, West Indies; Las Vegas; and The Pierre in New York City.

Trained in the classic French discipline, Payne's formal training included positions at several highly renowned Michelin Star restaurants including time spent with Francis Coulson at Sharrow Bay and Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico in London

Payne joined the Four Seasons family as a Dining Room Sous-Chef at Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies in early 1997. Living on this colorful Caribbean island for two years, Payne came to relish the wonderful local island fruits and seafood, which he incorporated into his dishes to reflect the local culture.

Payne joined the pre-opening team at Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas in 1999 as Sous Chef, and quickly rose to the position of Restaurant Chef at the celebrated Café Pierre at The Pierre in New York from 2001 to 2003, before joining The Ritz-Cartlon Chicago as Executive Sous Chef. In 2006, he was named Executive Chef at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago.

Since moving to Chicago, Payne loves to sample new restaurants and work with local organic farmers and purveyors for the freshest products, to incorporate into his distinct style and ever-evolving menu.

Seasons Lounge and Bar Making Spirits Bright this Season New holiday cocktails are the perfect pairing to complimentary roasted chestnuts served by the fire at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

The weather outside may be frightful, but the cozy atmosphere and winter drinks in Seasons Lounge and Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago are delightful. Seasons Lounge and Bar continues its timeless tradition of serving holiday spirits and roasted chestnuts by the roaring fireplace from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Through December 25. The chestnuts – offered complimentary to lounge patrons – are served hot after being roasted over the open fire in a roasting pan. The chestnuts are best enjoyed with festive cocktails or Executive Chef Kevin Hickey's decadent Haute Chocolate.

Holiday Cocktails, $13 each

  • Fireside Martini Grey Goose, Bailey's Irish Cream, White Creme de Cacao,
  • Ebenezer's Egg Nog Kahlua Liquor, Egg Nog, Ground Nutmeg
  • Jack Frost Stoli Vanilla Vodka, White Godiva Liquor, Peppermint Schnapps, candy cane
  • Apple Bourbon Bonfire, Knob Creek, Hot Apple Cider, cinnamon stick and lemon wheel
  • Poinsettia Chandon, Grand Marnier, Cranberry Juice, garnished with three cranberries
  • Chai Snowball Chai mix, Kettle One Vodka, Frangelico, Splash of Cream

    Haute Chocolate, $15 (sharing is recommended)

    Executive Chef Kevin Hickey shares his rich and decadent Valrhona hot cocoa recipe with the Haute Chocolate and homemade chocolate marshmallows. Sipping the hot chocolate is an experience not to be forgotten. The hot chocolate is presented with the marshmallows on a silver tray and served and churned tableside out of a traditional French hot chocolate pot, which allows guests to enjoy the drink at its richest. A server pours the cocoa over a large cup topped with chocolate lattice, melting the chocolate treat into the cup. For those who like it a little less rich, cream is served on the side.

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