Charred broccoli toast | Loews Philadelphia Hotel

‘Tis the season to plan your holiday dinner. To help avoid the stress that can come with planning festive season cooking, I sat down with Chef Tom Harkins to learn about his cooking background and tips for holiday meals. He was kind enough to share a delicious recipe that is sure to please your guests this season.

Chef Tom Harkins | Loews Philadelphia Hotel

What is your favorite comfort food during the holiday season?

I love Brussels sprouts with bacon and pickled apple.

Tell me about your best holiday memory.

My mother’s whipped turnips. They were awesome. You could smell them through the house when she made them. It really smelled like the holidays.

How do you get into the holiday spirit?

I have an old-school train set that I set up for the kids. That gets me in the spirit!

Who inspired you to become a chef?

I used to watch Great Chefs of Chicago and San Francisco and Julia Child on PBS when I was a kid and I knew I wanted to be a chef.

Tell me about your cooking background and how being a Philly-native has influenced your career.

I have worked in the business for 32 years. I’m 48, I’ve been doing it a long time. I graduated from Culinary Institute of America in New York in 1989. I started at Hotel Atop the Bellevue, then moved to the Rittenhouse Hotel in 1993, and then to a restaurant called the Moshulu. After that, I worked at a restaurant call Circa and continued to open two more restaurants with the same company. From there, I moved on to Loews Hotels and have been here for 10 years. Philly is a Blue Collar town. People work hard and get their hands dirty. I’m the same way!

Do you cook for the holidays at home?

I cook on Christmas. We make prime rib for the family. I’ll make my mother’s whipped turnips and some other sides.

How do you put a unique twist on classic Philly dishes?

We put pretzels in our salted Carmel ice cream sandwiches. Philly pretzels are the best!

If you had to eat one signature Philly food for a week, what would it be and why?

Obviously, cheesesteaks. Who doesn’t love beef and cheese? I go to a place called Donkeys near my house. I can eat two of them. They’re that good!

And now for Chef Tom’s festive dish that will bring joy to the world (well, at least to your guests)! Happy cooking!

Charred broccoli toast | Loews Philly

Charred Broccoli Toast with Spiced Squash Puree, Toasted Pistachio, and Parmesan

Serves 4


– 4ea.  ½ in slices of high quality country bread (sour dough is what we use)
– 2 cups of broccoli florets
– 1 cup of butternut squash
– 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
– 6 tablespoon whole butter
– Whole nutmeg as needed
– 4 tablespoon olive oil
– Juice of half a lemon
– 1 clove of garlic
– ¼ cup toasted pistachios coarsely chop
– 1 teaspoon of pickle jalapeno minced
– 2 tablespoon of chopped mint
– Parmesan as needed


– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On cookie sheet lay out diced squash and drizzle with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
– Grate some fresh nutmeg on top, sprinkle thyme around and roast in oven until tender.
– Take out, place in blender and puree with butter until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
– Take broccoli florets and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and broil in oven until slightly charred and tender. Take out, toss in lemon juice and set aside.
–  In a cast iron pan, coat with remaining olive oil, heat pan, add bread slices and char on both sides {should almost be close to burnt}

To assemble:

– Spread the warm puree on toast, top with charred broccoli, pistachios, mint, and chilies.
– Finish with freshly grated parmesan. Cut and serve.

Happy Holidays!