World's Most Expensive Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Tryptophan-tastic Thanksgiving There are a lot of noble emotions and well-intentioned stories associated with Thanksgiving. We tell each other how grateful we are for this and that and how the Pilgrims and Native Americans probably swapped recipes for the best cranberry sauce around a big table adorned with those cornucopias we all made cutouts of in third grade.

    In the end, though, it's about celebrating what we have by eating and sleeping as much as we can in one 24-hour period. In some ways, it's enjoying as much excess that is realistic for one day. How else should we explain the giant, basted bird planted in the middle of our table?

    For all of the work, dishes and ambrosia that go into a full Thanksgiving meal, the cost per person is often surprisingly cheap. The American Farm Bureau Federation placed the average cost for a full meal last year, including staples like turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes, at $4.35 per person for a table of 10. This figure would likely go up with inclusion of more organic ingredients.

    Chef Hosea Rosenberg, winner of "Top Chef" season five and owner of Blackbelly Catering, suggests buying less and skipping leftovers to further save on costs but says Thanksgiving is a chance to go all out.

    "I feel that you get what you pay for," he says. "If you want to treat everyone to a more delicious meal with healthier and more environmentally conscious ingredients, then you have to splurge a little."

    So we wondered: What would Thanksgiving look like if you were to splurge a lot?

  • Setting up for a feast Your personal set of family china is no doubt worth its weight in gold in sentimental value and perhaps actual value, but you're going to need some more blatantly extravagant settings to rub your family's and friends' faces in just how thankful you are this year.

    Something like, say, a hallmark crescent engraved into sterling silver flatware containing the initials of the president.

    For you and 11 guests, the Continental dinner set presented by Tuttle Silver furnishes 66 utensils for a trim $25,199.95. At that price tag, it may be the first holiday you actually hope for the dinner conversation to turn political.

    Just in case the banter once again trails off, it may be best to under-season all of your dishes. After all, you have your matching salt and pepper mills from Robbe & Berking. Not only will your guests begin to notice the running theme of sterling silver as they grind some flavor into the dinner, but you "forgot" to remove the price tags of $2,505 for each mill. "Oops!"

    To prove to your guests you aren't solely thankful for sterling silver this year or still bitter about not being invited to the King of Morocco's daughter's wedding, you can simply pull out the gold-themed dining set used at the reception. Designed by Haviland & Parlon, the Scheherazade dinnerware from the 1,000-guest ceremony is available on the site Elegance2003 at just $5,509 per five-piece dining set. Don't worry -- shipping is free.

  • Nice to 'meat' you The average turkey cost is due to go up from last year's $17.66 for a 16-pound bird according to the USDA, but who said anything about being average?

    San Francisco artisan butchery 4505 Meats seems to have taken that idea of "too much of a good thing" and added an enticing question mark at the end, presenting its third annual Grand Turducken. Using the freshest, tastiest bits from local chicken, duck and turkey, it is 19 pounds of "juicy perfection" with enough meat for up to 30 people, offered with a side of gravy. It needs to cook for eight hours, at which point the tantalizing aromas will presumably make you forget all about the $295 you spent on the bird(s). This is the first year 4505 is offering the Turducken Junior, which will feed a dozen guests for $125.

    If you'd rather confuse your guests, there's the vegan option from Healthy Eating. For $93.99, this dish is "shaped like a turkey," or for just $49.95, Hebert's Specialty Meats offers a turkey stuffed with alligator dressing -- just how the Pilgrims would've wanted it.

    And "Top Chef's" Rosenberg says to up the ante with squab, a young pigeon, as a main course.

    "It's one of the most delicious birds you can eat," he said. "You can partially debone them and stuff them with a truffle and foie gras stuffing for a most decadent holiday treat."

    "They have amazing flavor and texture, yet most people are not very familiar with them," Rosenberg says.

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