WCTC Culinary Management students continue longstanding tradition of preparing, donating Thanksgiving meals
Each November since 2011, WCTC Culinary Management students have taken part in a special, fall holiday tradition: they make complete Thanksgiving meals for families in need, including those right within the College community.
For the past several days, students have been busy prepping, cooking and packaging meals, which will be donated to 20 WCTC students and their families the day before Thanksgiving.
In all, the Culinary students have been cooking 10 turkeys plus the traditional sides – stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, maple glazed carrots and pumpkin pies (made by WCTC Baking and Pastry students) – in their Principles of Food Preparation, Garde Manger and Culinary for Bakers courses.
Cooking Large Quantities, Giving Back
Preparing the Thanksgiving meals has given students insight and hands-on practice into what it takes to cook large quantities of food, but the best lesson is what the students take away from the experience, said Chef Jack Birren, WCTC Culinary Management instructor.
“I love showing the students different ways to breakdown and prepare the turkey for the holidays. We spend time talking about how to prepare without drying out your turkey,” Birren said. “The whole semester we spend time making recipes for 10-15 people, and Thanksgiving week we prepare for 100. We like to mention that as chefs, we have the opportunity to give back to the community by cooking.”
The holiday meals donation project started small 11 years ago with four family meals, and it has grown over time. This year, the students are preparing enough turkey and sides for 20 family meals (four meals per family). Turkeys were donated by WCTC Baking and Pastry Management instructor Michelle Gasparek and her husband. Additional donations were provided by the Hospitality, Baking and Culinary Club, and a local food distributor.