Paul Wahlberg fondly describes holidays at the Wahlberg homestead in Dorchester as mayhem.
“With nine kids, it was always something,” he says with a laugh. But at the heart of it all was family— and food. His parents spent the entire day in the kitchen turning out traditional roast turkey and all the trimmings. Wahlberg remembers feasting all day long between breaks for playtime, something that inspired his career as a chef. “There’s nothing better than cooking for family,” he says, which is something he does now, hosting up to 50 guests for Christmas Eve and staying up all night to make each person’s favorite dish.
The beverage of choice among the Wahlberg kids was always hot chocolate with a large dollop of Marshmallow Fluff. Now Wahlberg, the executive chef and owner of both the acclaimed Alma Nove and the quirky cult-favorite Wahlburgers in Hingham, has kicked up the cocoa to please adults. With the addition of Kahlúa and Baileys, this made-from-scratch hot chocolate will keep you warm both inside and out. “It’s amazingly addictive,” he says.
All grown up now, the Walhberg siblings love to cook, yet they look to Paul as their go-to when it comes to the finer points. But the one sibling who is only now mixing things up in the kitchen is Mark (Boston’s most famous underwear model-cum-movie star). “He just finally started grilling,” Paul says. “When he made me some hamburgers and chicken wings, I realized it was the first meal he’d ever cooked for me.”
The holidays still hold special meaning for Paul, who has created a magical environment at both of his restaurants. With a 15-foot tree decked in lights outside Alma Nove and Wahlburgers’ video loop including Frosty the Snowman and The Grinch, he’s focused on getting people in the holiday spirit. And what does this busy chef want for Christmas? “Maybe a new chop saw,” says the avid carpentry hobbyist, “or the GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip I never got as a kid!”