Flashback to My First Shanghai Thanksgiving at Jean-Georges Restaurant

Reflecting back on my first Thanksgiving holiday in Shanghai, I recall I decided to host an elegant Thanksgiving dinner for my international group of friends, as many of them were  unfamiliar with this traditional American holiday.

I wanted to offer them the best, so I planned my dinner party at the award-winning New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Shanghai restaurant. His first signature eatery outside Manhattan, this branch is located in Three on the Bund, a 1916 neo-classical building.

Yes, the restaurant is known for its French cuisine, but the chef on this occasion was American-born Eric Johnson, so I knew he’d understand just what was called for.

Jean-Georges restaurant at Three on the Bund, the 1916 colonial building.

Gathering for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in JG’s dining alcove.

Amelie de Mony-Pajol, Geoff Mannering, host Jeanne Lawrence, and Ding’An Fei.

Shelley Lim and David Zhong.

Adriana Mannering and Lyle Hayden.

I owe thanks to the then General Manager, Frenchman Jacky Goergler, for helping me find just the right setting for an intimate “family dinner” feel—an alcove off the bar. I decorated the long dining table with a holiday theme: a cornucopia of seasonal fall flowers, candelabras, and votives.

After sipping French Champagne in the bar area, we sat down to an elegant version of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner: Warm Mushroom Ravioli with Parmesan Broth and Herbs; Slow-Cooked Salmon with Celeriac Puree and Black Truffle Vinaigrette; Roasted Organic Turkey with Chestnut-Sourdough Stuffing; Cranberry; and dessert tastings. To accompany the menu, I chose California wines, in support of my friends in Napa Valley.

Sergio Young.

Annie Wang, Jeanne Lawrence, and Laurette Hartignan.

Family-style gathering.

Jennifer Yan, Christian Poda, and Lyle Hayden.

Geoff Mannering and Jeanne Lawrence.

Alex Hartignan and Chuk-Kwan Ting.

Warm Mushroom Ravioli with Parmesan Broth and Herbs.

Dessert Tasting Finale.

My guest list reflected how international a city Shanghai has become. I was joined by friends from mainland China and the U.S. as well as Taiwan, France, Germany, England, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Japan.

In my toast, I remarked that though we were from different countries, the fact that we were all in Shanghai showed we had kindred spirit.

Laurette Hartignan and Johnny Hornby.

Kiko Sih and Defne Ayas.

Amelie de Mony-Pajol and Ding’An Fei.

Sophie Von Haselberg, daughter of Bette Midler,  and Jeanne Lawrence.

Peter Lim and Liu Ying Mei.

Lynn Barboza and Pippa Dennis.