Giving thanks for cookery students
Whitireia cookery students experienced one of the great American pastimes last week when they served Wellington’s homeless community a huge Thanksgiving feast.
The annual celebration, hosted by the United States Embassy and Downtown Community Ministry, was held at Wesley Methodist Church where almost 200 diners were treated to a traditional meal.
Chef tutor Sonya Martin says it was an opportunity for the graduating class to help out and show their skills to members of the New Zealand Chefs Association, who supervised the kitchen.
‘‘ The team did themselves proud. When it came to getting involved [in the event] every one was very keen to help. They said, ‘It’s a good karma thing isn’t it’. ‘‘It was time well spent.’’ Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the US on November 25 and traces its origins from a 1621 harvest feast, hosted by the Plymouth settlers, to express their gratitude for a successful growing season.
Downtown Community Ministry director Stephanie McIntyre says the message means a lot to the homeless.
‘‘ These are people who are really poor and who struggle to pay for basic things.
‘‘They don’t have much so they can’t just go out for a meal.
‘‘This is a different experience where people are actually being treated like anyone else. Being able to put other people first is just a really cool thing to do.’’
Roast turkey, vegetables, kumara, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pecan pie was on the festive menu which conjured memories of home for many of the Embassy’s staff.
Embassy staff member and Louisiana native John Robertson, who has been involved with the event since its inception four years ago, is the only one from his family who would not be home for the holiday, but said he would celebrate with friends.
‘‘In the States, for the younger generation, Thanksgiving is about food, family and football.
‘‘ My friends here say I’m a really great cook. It’d probably be what my mum would call bland food, but they just love it.’’
Mr Robertson says some of his favourite traditional dishes include candied yams, green bean casserole and ‘‘ the big roast beef my mum makes’’.
Lunch service: Whitireia cookery students dished up a Thanksgiving Day feast for Wellington’s homeless.
Thanks for lunch: Wellington’s homeless community gathered for a Thanksgiving Day feast courtesy of the United States Embassy.
Big bird: US Ambassador David Huebner and Downtown Community Ministry director Stephanie McIntyre carved up a turkey for Thanksgiving lunch in Wellington last week.