Thanksgiving Traditions

By Leslie Moore

Chef Joseph Bonaparte

“Food is important in our family,” said Chef Joseph Bonaparte, Executive Director of Horry Georgetown Technical College’s International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach. “My father died when I was seven, and a lot of the time I spent with my mother was in the kitchen. She just turned 86, and my sister and I traveled to her home in Texas. By my mother’s request, we spent her birthday sitting around her kitchen table making pasta – that’s what she wanted, and we had a great time.”

Chef Bonaparte prepares his childhood favorite, Sausage Sage Stuffing, for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “Our holiday menus are very traditional – turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, etc. I like keeping family food traditions alive.” This 30 year veteran chef remembers that he didn’t like the chestnuts as a child. “After years of cooking, I now appreciate roasting and peeling,” he said with a laugh.

A state of the art facility, The International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach opened last year, just after Hurricane Matthew came through our area. “This is a world class facility and very cost effective for students. I’m very proud of the curriculum, and the competency of our students is equal to a much more costly school.” Chef Bonaparte came to our community three and a half years ago to lead the development of the new school – revamping the entire culinary program. The program has five full time and four part time chefs on staff, and has already doubled the number of students since the 2016 opening.

Sausage Chestnut Stuffing


1 lb. pork sausage

1 medium Spanish onion – small diced

6 stalks celery- small diced

2 cloves of garlic – minced

½ c. dry white wine

4 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1 loaf hearty bread – day old

1 c. roasted, peeled chestnuts

1½ tbsp. fresh thyme leaves – chopped

1 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves – chopped

2 tbsp. fresh sage leaves – chopped

2 tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

4 tbsp. butter – diced small

Salt and fresh crushed black pepper to taste


Heat oven to 350°F. Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer to a large bowl (leave the fat in the pan) and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the onion, celery and garlic and cook until translucent – about 5 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook until evaporated for 5 minutes. Add the broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by a quarter – 8 to 10 minutes. Toss the onion with the sausage, bread, chestnuts, and herbs to combine, taste and adjust salt and black pepper. Transfer to a large, shallow baking dish. Scatter butter over the top. Bake until the top is golden and crisp – 30 to 40 minutes.

Chef Geoffrey Blount

As the Baking and Pastry Arts Instructor at Horry Georgetown Technical College’s new International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach, Chef Geoffrey Blount is very proud of the new culinary school. “It’s got state of the art equipment, and potential for growth – it has put HGTC on the map for culinary arts.”

“I didn’t plan to be a chef,” Chef Blount told me laughing, when I asked the origins of his love for food. “I actually majored in Technical Theatre Arts – I wanted to do the lighting, set design, etc.” However, as a student he had always worked in food service, and fell in love with the craft. “In this industry you can always work and you’re always fed!” He went on to say that a true chef has a passion and drive that pushes him to create the very best. “You have to care about every detail; you have to be all about the food.”

Chef Blount grew up spending summers on his grandparents’ farm, where fresh, well prepared food was always a top priority. “This pie or tart always reminds me of spending the holidays on my Aunt Martha’s Farm in Molena, Georgia,” he remembered. “There was a large pecan tree in the yard, and Martha would always have a large table full of different kinds of pecan sweets and confections. I would hurry into the house and look through all of the tins on the table and try all the different kinds of sweets. But what I loved was this marriage of sweet potato pie and pecans that was unveiled on Thanksgiving. It smelled soooooo good.

Sweet Potato Pecan Tart


4 eggs beaten

1 cup mashed sweet potato

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup pecans

1 tablespoon maple extract

1 – 9” unbaked pie disk

Equipment Needed

8 or 9 inch tart ring

Medium mixing bowl


Measuring spoons

Measuring cups

Small rolling pin (optional)



Place pie dough in tart ring and press to edges with fingers. Prick bottom of pie shell lightly with fork. Now, in mixing bowl, mix rest of ingredients with whisk until blended. Pour into pie shell and bake in preheated 335 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes. To check that pie is done press gently on top of tart to check resistance – the tart should not jiggle when touched. Remove tart from oven, let stand for one hour, then refrigerate for at least five hours before removing outer ring. You are now ready to serve. Tart freezes well – remove outer ring first and make sure it is wrapped air tight.

Local foodies are welcome to visit the school and purchase student creations.Located on the Grand Strand Campus of HGTC, The Fowler Dining Room, featuring delicious gourmet lunches, is open to the public, by reservation only, and Layers Bakery, featuring pastries, cakes, cookies, sandwiches and more is open Monday – Thursday. Call 843- 843-839-7001 or visit for more information.

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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2 Responses to “Thanksgiving Traditions”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    “I didn’t plan to be a chef.” How often life leads us where we need to go. Thanks for the recipes.

  2. Anna Riley says:

    Great article and recipes! That stuffing sounds so good with the sausage and spices. And the sweet potato pie sounds great too…. oh I like those baguettes. My favorite! Fresh bread!!

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