Prep work under way for Thanksgiving feast for 5,500 in DuluthPreparations for the 22nd annual Twin Ports Thanksgiving Buffet began Monday morning with carrot peeling, onion quartering and the unloading of cartloads of potatoes and boxes of parsnips and rutabagas.
By: Christa Lawler , Duluth News Tribune
Take 20 gallons of water, 3 pounds of turkey stock and 35 pounds of wild rice. Boil the mix in a large kettle, stirring with a 4-foot long whisk-like kitchen implement.
Add dried cranberries, green onions, nuts and vinaigrette. Serve to 5,500 people.
Preparations for the 22nd annual Twin Ports Thanksgiving Buffet began Monday morning with carrot peeling, onion quartering and the unloading of cartloads of potatoes and boxes of parsnips and rutabagas. In the days leading up to the event, hundreds of volunteers will cycle through the kitchen at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, creating a menu of turkey and fixings, roasted root vegetables, sweet potatoes, cranberries and dinner rolls.
The free feast, led by the College of St. Scholastica, is open to the public and runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the DECC.
There also is a buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Cloquet, and meals will be taken to homebound residents who requested dinners.
After 22 years, head cook Jack Teske said it is no longer a stressful project. Pre-planning begins in September when volunteers figure out how many people they will serve this season.
But once the crew hits the kitchen the week of Thanksgiving:
“It’s honed,” Teske said. “It’s so planned after so many years of doing it.”
Mike Dittmar drove up from Minneapolis with a friend for two days of turkey duty, baking 210 deboned birds. This year’s recipe includes a secret ingredient —mayonnaise to keep the main course from burning and to lock in the seasonings. Dittmar said he has tried it with fish, but this is his first time with a turkey. By early afternoon he was unloading turkeys from the oven, straining the cooking juices to use in the stuffing and forking the turkeys onto a clean baking sheet to cool. Carving begins today.
“Cooks and chefs work really hard,” Dittmar said. “We’re just doing it for two days, and we’re exhausted when we get home.”
After all this, Dittmar plans to spend his Thanksgiving at a restaurant.
“I don’t want to cook another turkey,” he said.
Holly Hansmeyer spent her morning cutting bread, chopping celery and then moved on to onions.
“When you see the bucket (of onions) at first, it feels overwhelming,” she said. “You get into a groove.”
The DTA is providing free bus services to the Holiday Center, where shuttles to the DECC will be available.