When you need to prepare 3,000 Thanksgiving dinners, where do you go? A stadium-sized kitchen is required.
That’s why Guaranteed Rate Field smells like Thanksgiving dinner this week.
For the past 26 years, Levy Restaurants of Chicago has prepared massive Thanksgiving dinners that are served free to Chicago’s homeless population and others in need.
“We’re looking at a big production of great people from Levy restaurants pulling this big meal off,” said Levy Restaurants Head Chef Robin Rosenberg. “Three thousand people we’re feeding on Thursday.”
The figures are staggering:
- Turkey weighing 1600 pounds
- Sweet potatoes (600 pounds)
- cranberries (500 pounds)
- 400 lbs. mashed potatoes
- Green beans, 300 pounds
- All topped with 120 pounds of butter.
A meal this large cannot be prepared in a regular kitchen, which is why Levy Restaurants is playing ball in the massive industrial kitchen at Guaranteed Rate Field, which normally prepares ballpark food for thousands of fans.
“We’re doing it at the ballpark because it’s one of our biggest kitchens in the city of Chicago,” said Rosenberg. “This is where we can really pull it off. We’ve got everything we need. We have all of the necessary refrigeration. We are conveniently located. We have about 30 minutes to get to the Salvation Army.”
On Thursday, police will accompany the fresh food to several Salvation Army Centers in the Chicago area, as well as homeless encampments under bridges and along expressways.
Putting together this massive meal takes months of logistical planning, especially with food prices on the rise and some Thanksgiving staples difficult to find.
“Believe it or not,” Rosenberg said, “I ordered all the turkey about six months ago just to secure it.”
Every Thanksgiving, Levy Restaurant employees volunteer their time and talents to make the food.
“It’s a joy once a year to come out here,” said Levy Vice President Mike Miller. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s a minor detail, but we enjoy doing it. It provides food for a large number of deserving people.”
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