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Top Chef Thanksgiving Day Tips: Lessons From Brad Wise

Rare Society and Wise Ox’s executive chef is not shy about his un-cheffy way to the perfect bird
Brad Wise, Wise Ox tips
Courtesy of Wise Ox

“People are always like, ‘You’re a chef. I’m sure you’re smoking your turkey,'” says Brad Wise, head chef and owner of Trust Restaurant Group. “But I’ve tried it every way, and I’m telling you that old bag is the best.” 

At his restaurants, Brad jockeys a nightly parade of red oak to smoke and char meats into various forms of yes. But for Thanksgiving turkey, he relies on the good ol’ Reynolds oven bag. 

“I told a friend to try this, and he said, ‘No way,'” Brad recalls. “I said ‘Okay, suit yourself.’ He came back a week later and said, ‘Okay, fine, I did it and you were right.’ It’s perfect. The bag basically bastes the bird in its own fat and keeps it from drying out.”

For this episode of Happy Half Hour, we sit down with Brad at Wise Ox, the butcher shop he took over during the pandemic. The little storefront in North Park is a throwback to the days when people knew their meat guy and could ask for different cuts. Starting in the ’80s, the butchering process was shifted further and further away from public view, and butcher shops were kind of tucked into the back of a larger grocery outlet. 

“I’m from Jersey,” Brad says. “On the East Coast, there are all these little butcher shops where you get your meat. You know the guy, he knows where the meat comes from.”

On the podcast, we pester Brad for all his Thanksgiving tips… and we crush one of the best Philly cheesesteaks in the city.

By Troy Johnson

Troy Johnson is the magazine’s award-winning food writer and humorist, and a long-standing expert on Food Network. His work has been featured on NatGeo, Travel Channel, NPR, and in Food Matters, a textbook of the best American food writing.

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