Honoring Family Inspires Local Chef’s Recipe Remixes: 3 Tips to Shake Up Holiday Dishes

Ryan Dodge Tavern Grill

(Twin Cities, MN) — December 18th, 2023 — For many, one of the biggest highlights each holiday season is the signature dish we know that special friend or family member will bring to the table. It isn’t just about the food, either. For many, cooking is an expression of love — which is why holiday recipes hold such a special place in so many families.

For one Twin Cities chef, cherished holiday recipes live on in a way you might not expect — by giving them a remix paying tribute to his family. Executive Chef Ryan Dodge of the Twin Cities’ Tavern Grill says, with a little ingenuity, anyone can shake up their traditional holiday recipes to keep the spirit alive for the entire family.

Putting your own special touch on favorite holiday recipes

Chef Dodge says there are three themes to keep in mind when paying homage to a classic family recipe to make it your own remix.

Ryan Dodge Tavern Grill

Think outside the box: Sometimes, rules are meant to be broken! When brainstorming your remix, there’s no need to limit yourself to dishes that come to mind first when you think of the holiday season. Your dad’s famous baked ham starring in a fresh salad? Sure! Your cousin’s legendary cranberry sauce inspiring a sweet breakfast pizza? Why not? Don’t be afraid to go unexpected.

Create with intention: Remixing traditional family recipes can be a great way to infuse them with even more meaning. Think about whether certain ingredients, cooking methods or even plating techniques may have special significance to your family’s story. Maybe grandma always wanted to visit England, so how about bringing England to her with a deluxe Shepherd’s Pie featuring her famous roasted carrots? A thoughtful twist can be a powerful way to build on the love already inside a traditional family recipe.

Involve the whole family: Ultimately, it’s all about creating memories together. Remixing favorite recipes is a great way to bond as a family over new experiences. Even if the end result doesn’t turn out exactly how you envisioned, what’s most important is to have fun. Regardless of the recipe, cooking or baking together as a family can become a holiday tradition in itself!

From Tavern Grill’s kitchen to yours

Chef Dodge’s tips take inspiration from his approach to adapting his own holiday creation — his Olive Cream Cheese Burger, invented in honor of a favorite holiday recipe from his own family.

“No dish is more legendary in my family than Aunt Linda’s olive cream cheese dip,” Dodge said. “I wanted to turn this family classic into my own creation as a tribute to her. What makes it even more special is that I can now share it with our guests at Tavern Grill.”

Here’s how to prepare Chef Dodge’s twist on his holiday family favorite.

Chef Dodge’s Olive Cream Cheese Burger

Inspired by Aunt Linda’s signature cream cheese dip for the holidays

Recipe yields 4 burgers

Ryan Dodge Tavern Grill



  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Your family’s favorite burger seasoning
  • 4 oz. green olives (for topping)

Olive Cream Cheese Burger Sauce

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • Half-cup green olives (pitted)
  • 2 tbsp. capers
  • 1 tsp. black ground pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic


  1. Prepare the Olive Cream Cheese Burger Sauce by finely chopping the green olives and capers then mincing the garlic. Fold the ingredients together with the softened cream cheese, and set aside. Refrigerate if preparing ahead of time.
  2. Form the ground beef into 4-inch diameter patties and season with your family’s favorite burger seasoning.
  3. Place burgers in pan over medium heat and sear for 4 minutes on each side (or until preferred doneness).
  4. While the meat is resting, begin to prepare the buns. Set your oven to broil, then butter the inside top and bottom of each bun. Place butter-side up on a sheet pan, then set inside the oven for 1 to 2 minutes, or until toasted to your liking.
  5. Assemble by placing burger patties on buns, adding a generous amount of the Olive Cream Cheese Burger Sauce, and garnishing with extra sliced green olives, just for good measure.

Serving tip: Set out toppings such as lettuce, onions and tomatoes so guests can customize to their liking, or keep it classic to let the Olive Cream Cheese Burger Sauce shine through!

Slider option: Heading to an appetizer-style gathering? Prepare as sliders to share the experience with everyone!

Sharing traditions, sharing joy

For Chef Dodge, giving traditional dishes a nontraditional spin is one of the things he enjoys most about cooking, whether for loved ones at home or for guests at Tavern Grill. Helping others discover new culinary experiences is one of the most rewarding parts of the job, he said.

“As a chef, it’s always exciting getting to experiment and bring new creations to life,” Dodge said. “At Tavern Grill, our build-your-own menu lets anyone give their favorite dish a remix. From pizzas to salads to burgers, you can mix and match whatever you crave.”

Ryan Dodge Tavern Grill

Tavern Grill is your home for the holidays

Chef Dodge’s Olive Cream Cheese Burger is available now at all Tavern Grill locations. What’s more, guests can have a chance to try build-your-own creations designed by the Tavern Grill family as part of the restaurant’s Holiday Recipe Swap.

Through Christmas Eve, every Tavern Grill gift card purchase allows you to participate in the Holiday Recipe Swap with a vintage-style recipe card featuring a build-your-own burger, pizza or salad inspired by team members’ very own creations.

“Whatever your holiday looks like, there’s room for both old and new when it comes to traditions,” Dodge said. “As another year closes, it’s an opportunity to pause and reflect — to honor the past while also embracing the future. While it may seem like a simple gesture, the foods you enjoy can be a meaningful way to bring family and friends together. Food has the power to be a universal love language, and finding my creative inspiration in the dishes from my family’s story and then sharing them with our guests at Tavern is, for me, a truly personal way of expressing that love.”

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