There’s nothing worse than looking forward to a delicious hearty Christmas dinner at the end of the year and then something going wrong at the last minute.

So we felt it was out moral duty to our readers to try out recipes from some of the best chefs in the area and use their tops tips to make the ultimate festive meal.

After a quick shop in Waitrose (thank you Waitrose) and fetching the turkey roller, me and sous chef, senior reporter Christine Fleming, headed to mine to cook up a storm.

The main tip from the four chefs was preparation, and I only really understood this advice after I failed to follow it.

This was not due to me thinking it was not a useful tip, but just by a) Not having any time the night before and b) Not having prepared to have enough time the night before.

The one bit of advice I unswervingly took was Antony Worrall Thompson’s, who told me to take a “little slurp” every time I felt a little stress.

As many who have cooked Christmas dinner before will appreciate, I was slightly too full of blood orange bellinis by the time our guests arrived.

We did manage to get everything done between 3pm and 9pm, with only a few hiccups along the way. After a quick call to Laverstoke Park Farm to discuss the kindly donated turkey crown roller, which came from a rarely sold Norfolk black turkey, we set to work.

Once defrosted, we rolled the turkey open and stuffed in the sage and onion mixture. The turkey was rolled over the stuffing and secured with string, then placed in a foiled baking tray (shiny side up works best, according to Worrall Thompson) and then the pigs in blankets and stuffing balls were added.

Laverstoke Park Farm suggested the 1.5kg turkey should be cooked for one hour and 40 minutes. However, my oven has a broken dial and a mind of its own, so ours took a little longer. Somehow the turkey managed to come out juicy and tender in the end.

We cooked the potatoes and left them by the side to cool – which was recommended by Paul Merrett, head chef at the Victoria, in Richmond. It was a bit of a struggle finding a tray big enough for 3kg of potatoes, but we managed it. Another great tip from Merrett was to cook the potatoes in a frying pan instead if you are strapped for space.

After the turkey and potato trays were squeezed into the oven (with the potatoes at the top) we got to work on the vegetables (again, this should have really been done the night before). Once we felt secure everything was on its way, we settled to make sure the blood orange bellinis were just right for our guests.

After almost an hour believing the turkey was roasting away we checked it and found it still raw, while the potatoes were browning nicely.

We moved the turkey up to the top and only then discovered my oven did not cook anything unless it was high up (I cook a lot, but only with the one shelf we have, so this had never been discovered before).

The next few hours, we managed the meat and potatoes in shifts, hoping they would eventually find some heat in my useless oven.

All the vegetables were diced, mashed or pan-fried – and now came the moment of truth – was the turkey cooked?

Taking the turkey out I hadn’t quite appreciated how heavy it was. Without warning it leaped out of my hands and straight on to the oven door, with a steady waterfall of precious turkey juices flowing away. With help from Christine and senior reporter Louise Robertson, we managed to save a decent amount of juice. I was now banned from handling the turkey.

Once the main was devoured, we returned to making the pudding – having tried to juggle cooking the vegetables and making the roulade for the pavlova, we decided to give up on the mixture a little – despite having passed it round the group of awaiting guests to try their luck at making the eggs whites stiffen – using another tip from head chef at Brula, in St Margarets, Jamie Russell – to get in as many people to help you as you can.

Suffice to say, it did not turn out quite as planned and I ended up smothering on the brandy cream, mincemeat and dried fruit mixture in an attempt to hide the mess beneath.

The beauty of Christmas, and especially cooking Christmas dinner, is that even when things look their worst, there may be a miracle just around the corner.

Even if we had ended up eating pizza, it would still have been Christmas.

And if I can cook the Christmas meal with just one helping hand, while enjoying “festivities”, with an oven that will burn everything on the top shelf and leave raw anything below that, nowhere near enough pans, crockery, cutlery and no experience of cooking a Christmas dinner before – let alone for 12 people – then anyone really can do it.

Worrall Thompson has a host of tips to help ease the pressures of the Christmas day meal and will be using all of these himself, when he cooks Christmas dinner for his family and in-laws - who are coming over from Ireland.

His first tip is to ensure you get as much done in advance as possible. He said: “It’s about before the day which counts. Get the table laid up the day before – I get my kids involved with that.”

Also, he says making a list is always very helpful. He said: “It’s very satisfying to tick things off.”

Cooking the turkey is often the biggest worry for people on Christmas day, but Worrall Thompson says buying a meat thermometer can alleviate these worries. He said: “They are less than ten pounds and completely worth it as you are saving a £30 turkey from being over cooked.”

Also with the turkey he warns not to stuff the whole cavity of the turkey with stuffing. This is so the heat can penetrate the centre of the bird.

He said: “Leave the thermometer in the turkey while cooking and face the temperature dial towards the window of the oven. When it gets to 72 degrees, take it out the oven and take the foil off it - letting it cook until it gets to 80 degrees - when it should have browned.

“It should still be a little pink around the bones - but you don’t want the in-laws to think you are trying to kill them.”

The best, yet most deadly tip he offered however, was his way to deal with stress on the day. He said: “Get yourself a quaffable wine and have a quick slurp when you are feeling a little stressed.”

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Nicola Parsons, head chef at A Cena, Richmond, is lucky enough to not have to deal with the stress of the Christmas meal this year, which she owes to cooking skills of her mum.

She said: "Thankfully my mum is a great cook so I don't have to do any cooking the entire duration. I sit back, relax and enjoy the drinks mentioned" However, she does have a top tip for thickening up the gravy, when using her recommended turkey recipe.

She said: “If you are going to use the turkey recipe, when you make the gravy (from the wine left over from cooking turkey), there will be leftover stuffing. Add this to the gravy, whisk it in, thickens the grave and gives extra chestnut and prune flavour.

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Paul Merrett, head chef at The Victoria, Richmond, will be cooking at The Victoria on Christmas day and has been preparing his meal for many weeks.

His top tip is to prepare as much as possible in advance and also to improvise with certain dishes if you find you are pushed for space in the oven.

He said: “The main difference between cooking at home or professionally is the amount of advance preparation you understand you can do.”

“I remember my mum getting up at 3am and producing the whole meal completely off the cuff.

“Preparing in advance doesn’t change the taste at all. If you are cooking in small batches you can control what you are doing, so it’s much easier.”

For the potatoes he suggests, and does himself, cooking them in a pan if there is not enough room in the oven for them.

He said: “When at home, as I don’t have as much oven space as at the restaurant I will cook the potatoes in a pan.”

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Jamie Russell, head chef at Brula, St Margarets, will be cooking dinner for 85 people on Christmas day, but will return home in the evening for a traditional dinner with his family. He shares his top tips for the day.

He said: “I get people into the kitchen to help me. I get my kids and my girlfriend in to help on the day. It saves us all sitting in front of the television.”

“Forward preparation helps as well. Cooking vegetables the night before and putting it in the fridge means you only have to heat it the next day.”

Jamie (sensibly) started his preparations for the Christmas meals at Brula weeks ago, but he is confident about how the day will go.

He said: “This is the first time I have cooked on Christmas Day at Brula, but it’s nice and easy to cook a Christmas meal as everyone is having the same thing, and you are just boshing out 50 or 60 turkeys.”

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