The chef

Chef: Fred Neuville

Restaurant: The Fat Hen, Johns Island

Resume: Roanoke, Va., native is a CIA grad who has worked at The Willard Intercontinental (Washington, D.C.), Milan's Greenhouse and the School of Culinary Arts (Colorado), Jasmine Porch Restaurant (Kiawah Island), and Duvall catering and Rue de Jean (Charleston).

Loves Thanksgiving for: Big family cooking together and making a mess.

Fred Neuville changed the face of Johns Island dining when he decided to go out on his own, opening the Fat Hen in 2007.

The Lowcountry-French restaurant quickly became the go-to spot and has been a magnet for islanders and locals ever since.

The affable chef and his wife, Joan, are devoted parents to four adopted foster children. And he's big on the holiday tradition.

“We do Thanksgiving every year at our home and there are about 30-35 people there. ... We put a big spread out on our front lawn overlooking the water and it is awesome! This day makes great memories every year because my entire family is here.”

Neuville's favorite part of Thanksgiving with his kids is “everyone cooking throughout the whole day together and making a mess of the kitchen.”

His least favorite part? Cleaning up.

We wondered, is a fat hen breathing easier than a tom turkey at this time of year?

Says chef: “The Fat Hen is definitely breathing easier because she has a day off!”

The restaurant also closes so the staff can be with their families.

Potato Au Gratin

Yields: 14 (2x2-inch pieces) or 6 to 8 (3x3-inch pieces)

Ingredients

3 cups grated Gruyere cheese, plus cup for the top

1 quart heavy cream

3 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

8 large Idaho potatoes, peeled

Vegetable oil for pan

Directions

Mix the 3 cups cheese, cream and salt and pepper together with a whisk.

Slice potatoes very thinly, on a mandoline if possible, so you can just see your hand through the potato.

Toss the potatoes in with the cheese mix and mix well.

Oil a half-size shallow hotel pan or a 4-quart, 10x15-inch casserole dish and press the potato mixture into the pan. Top with remaining cup of cheese.

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hours until you see that a little fat from the cream is around the edges and there is no resistance when inserting a knife in the middle.

Let gratin cool and cut into desired squares. Place on a baking pan. When ready to serve, reheat at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.