"When people ask me if I'm opening another restaurant, I say the only thing I would ever consider now is an American bar in Havana." Jeremiah Tower is kidding, of course. As owner, chef and all-around gadabout at San Francisco's once-celebrated Stars, Tower spent 15 years on the scene, six days a week, smiling hello to as many as 800 people a day: a thin white duke proffering a flute of Champagne. By the mid-1980s he had become a star—one of America's first celebrity chefs—posing for a Dewar's ad and pausing for autographs. That was then. Now he's done quite enough hosting, thank you. Even his Havana fantasy is equivocal, suggesting nothing so much as Rick's Café Américain, complete with the misanthrope in the white suit.
But Havana is one of the few cities where Tower has not hung his toque. His travels, which have taken him from North America to Europe to the Far East and back (he's currently a New Yorker), are reflected in the menu he put together for this year's Christmas dinner: "I love the czarist Russian tradition that Christmas is for children and family, Easter for adults and their friends. But for me the food should always be a mix of the two holidays. The meal shouldn't be served all at once. One should be able to get up—and wander around, visit the cellar, open the wines, open presents—in between courses."
Related: Christmas Appetizers