By Jeremy Hochman, SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Now that Nov. 1 has arrived, The Syracuse Rescue Mission has less than a month left before they produce about 2,500 meals.
“Most of the people who work in the kitchen have been kitchen people their whole life so holidays have always moved, restaurant life doesn’t really stop,” said Syracuse Rescue Mission director of food services Karl Dawkins.
The Rescue Mission’s staff and volunteers have to work on one of the biggest holidays of the year.
“Everyone that signs up for the kitchen…you’re kind of already used to that lifestyle,” said Dawkins.
The kitchen at the rescue mission has been preparing for the Thanksgiving meal since September.
“It’s a very large operation,” said Dawkins.
Dawkins and his staff cook 130 turkeys over three months. Unlike the turkeys, the vegetables, stuffing, gravy, and potatoes are now being ordered so they can be cooked fresh on Thanksgiving. The small kitchen and lack of equipment is made up for by the staff’s organization. With two months of preparation complete, the staff is now focusing on the things that can’t be done too far ahead of time, like packaging the silverware.
Dawkins said that the staff usually cooks the right amount of turkey for the 2,500 meals that they expect to serve. However, if there are leftovers they repurpose the turkey into other meals. Some popular options are roasted turkey soups, stews, and turkey tetrazzini.
“Every single meal is delivered by volunteers,” said Dawkins.
More than 200 volunteers deliver Thanksgiving meals to people who are unable to make it to the Rescue Mission.
All 130 of the turkeys will be done cooking in about one week. At the Syracuse Rescue Mission, it is never too soon to start preparing.
“If we don’t get a jump on what we need for Christmas too we’re going to be way behind the eight ball,” Dawkins said.