15:29 PM

Culinary Management students prepare Thanksgiving meals for students, community members in need


PEWAUKEE, Wis. (Monday, Nov. 19, 2018) – With service learning being a key part of WCTC students’ education, those in the Culinary Management program have been busy preparing Thanksgiving meals and all the traditional fixings – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, biscuits, vegetable du jour and pumpkin pie (made by Baking and Pastry students) -- to make the fall holiday brighter for some local families.

The students have cooked 30 family meals – enough to feed about 180 people – in their Principles of Food Preparation and Culinary Nutrition courses. This year, 20 of the meals are earmarked for WCTC students in need, and the remaining meals will be given to the Hebron House of Hospitality, which provides shelter and services to homeless men, women and children in Waukesha County.

Chef instructor Jack Birren said this is the seventh year his students have been cooking the holiday meals. It started in 2011 on a small scale – four family meals, and in 2013 jumped to 30 family meals. Costs of the meals are covered through a generous donation of turkeys by WCTC Foundation Board member Stuart Schroeder, contributions from the Hospitality, Baking and Culinary Club and food donations from an anonymous local food purveyor.

The fully cooked meals are packaged, cooled and frozen, and then given to recipients with instructions on how to reheat.

Preparing the Thanksgiving meals has provided students with insight into what it takes to cook for a large group, Birren said.

“The feeling that you know you have impacted someone’s life through food is the reason I made the culinary/hospitality industry my career,” Birren said. “I love doing this project because it gives the students an experience of large-quantity cooking... It’s not every day you are making over 50 pounds of mashed potatoes.”

Birren’s hope is while the students are gaining practical skills, they are also taking away something more.

“It’s also very important for me to instill in their young culinary journey the need to support their community so they can experience the feeling of impacting someone’s life,” he said.

About Waukesha County Technical College

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