Every year, like millions of Americans, I obsess about how to cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. But Sang Yoon, the Los Angeles chef and Top Chef Masters contestant, tells me I'm wasting my time. He doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving—at least, not the way most of us do. Instead, he observes what he calls "Sangsgiving," the most lavish, over- the-top and adamantly nontraditional Thanksgiving this country has ever seen. "I have two rules: Don't eat turkey, and drink nothing but great bottles of Champagne all night," he says.
Yoon is the chef-owner of the Santa Monica and Culver City restaurants Father's Office and Lukshon, and (with former Spago pastry chef Sherry Yard) the forthcoming Helms Bakery. Born in Seoul, he moved to Los Angeles with his parents when he was a year old. "My mom was a horrible cook, and while my dad was a good, instinctive cook, I mostly grew up eating lots of fast food," he says. "I was a typical American kid, except I knew what kimchi was."
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Those early influences shaped his restaurant menus, for which he re-creates lowbrow dishes using top-notch ingredients and techniques: At Lukshon, for instance, he transforms Chinese fast-food-style orange chicken—his guilty pleasure—using sweetbreads; at Father's Office, he helped launch the chef-burger craze in 2000 when he introduced his famous dry-aged beef burger with bacon-fat-cooked onions and a mix of Gruyère and blue cheese.