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Thanksgiving Dinner: Chef Vanessa Cantave Shares Her 2012 Menu With HuffPost Black Voices (RECIPES, PHOTOS)

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THANKGIVING DINNER VANESSA CANTAVE
Damon Dahlen, AOL
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Food, family, faith and football -- for many, they're what holiday revelry is made of.

And while tradition informs what most of those will look like in our homes and yours, there's no reason to add some new traditions to the mix.

"I love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but sometimes it's fun to change things up a bit," chef Vanessa Cantave told The Huffington Post, giving this year's day of thanks the kind of fancying up she gave our summer BBQ.

"Maybe you are not interested in tackling the turkey this year, you're a bit of a creative cook or you just want to establish new traditions," she said.

But when going non-traditional, it's still key to stick with seasonal ingredients and flavors, Cantave suggests. "This helps maintain the warmth and comfort of Thanksgiving [that everyone looks forward to]."

Think warm spices like nutmeg (which Cantave used to garnish a butternut squash and leek soup), cinnamon and fresh herbs like sage and thyme. Go for starches, cheese, butter, cream and rich sauces, she says. "And don't forget the wine and drink!"

This week, Cantave invited the editors of HuffPost Black Voices over for some pre-Thanksgiving fun and to demonstrate what she's planning on serving up. Her menu is loose on tradition, heavy on flavor and deviates just enough from your average holiday fare.

Shop this table! Check out our entertaining gift guide, where you'll find the gilded goodness shown here, and more.

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Styling by Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson; food styling by Shani Porter; floral design by kat flower.

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