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Stephan Pyles, Stephan Pyles, Dallas
I grew up in West Texas, in a town called Big Spring; we used to say that it wasn't the end of the earth but you could see it from there. My dad owned a truck-stop café that served a mix of Southern food, Tex-Mex, and ranch cooking. Every Christmas, Rosalie, one of the dishwashers at the café, made turkey and sweet potato tamales, which she shared with everyone. I loved them; unwrapping the corn husk around the tamale was like unwrapping a little present. And I loved that at Christmas there was never a limit—no one ever said, "You're going to spoil your appetite." You could always just go for it. 

Recipe: Smoked Turkey-Sweet Potato Tamales