More than 700 guests are expected to gather for Thanksgiving dinner today at a local shelter, and John Ascuaga’s Nugget is prepared to serve.
“This is something Mr. (John) Ascuaga holds near and dear to his heart,” said Michael Traum, public relations manager for the Nugget.
St. Vincent’s Dining Room will open its doors to anyone in need of Thanksgiving dinner, no questions asked, Traum said.
According to Alan Cook, assistant executive chef at the Nugget, today’s feeding will feature 350 pounds of white turkey meat, about 200 to 250 pounds of dark turkey meat, and 250 pounds of ham. The Nugget chefs prepared 20 pans, or about 30 pounds, of Jell-O. Pastry chefs have made about 50 to 60 pumpkin pies. Homemade rolls will total 1,500, or about 1.5 per person.
Other items on the menu include green beans, brussel sprouts, homemade rolls with butter, cranberry sauce, coffee and milk.
“The folks (at St. Vincent’s) always appreciate it,” Traum said. “It takes a lot of recognition to know you need to ask for help. They’re very thankful. We do take pleasure in making (the dinner) possible.”
Today marks the 46th consecutive Thanksgiving John Ascuaga’s Nugget has provided these meals to St. Vincent’s. The Nugget has contributed to an area shelter since 1955 and began partnering with St. Vincent’s in 1961.
The chefs don’t doubt the total at the Dining Room, which serves an average of 500 meals per day, will set a record number of people fed on Thanksgiving.
“It’ll be 700 easily, but it may be more with gas prices going up,” Cook said.
Overall, the Nugget is expected to host 10,000 hungry diners at its restaurants and in its convention space today.
Food preparation began Tuesday. Turkeys and hams were heated, then refrigerated. The meal will be prepared and warmed today early in the morning. The Thanksgiving meal will be served at St. Vincent’s between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The meal itself is free, but if there were a charge, Cook said it would cost about $8.95 per person. Cook said the total amount of the food and preparation is about $3,000.
Although Cook said he enjoys putting on a good feast, “the best part of Thanksgiving is the sandwich after.”