When you’re a chef and cooking is your job, Thanksgiving—a holiday centered around food—can be a blessing or a curse.
And if you’re a student learning how to become a chef, the holiday can be a chance to utilize new skills, techniques and flavors while trying to balance your family’s Thanksgiving table traditions.
“Thanksgiving is great when you’re working in the educational field because you enjoy some time off, but if you’re working in the food service industry, it’s a different story,” said Chef Rene Jungo, School of Culinary Arts division chair at OSU Institute of Technology. “It’s one of the craziest days of the year, along with Christmas and New Year’s Eve.”
Even if you do get to stay home for the holiday, some chefs feel like it’s still a day of work preparing their family’s meal.
“Some chefs look at it as a chore, but it’s not to me,” said Chef Aaron Ware, Culinary Arts instructor, who said his favorite dishes to cook for Thanksgiving are collard greens and chitterlings.
For Culinary student Kelsey Skinner, it’s fried Cajun turkey, the main attraction on her Thanksgiving table that she’s been making long before she enrolled at OSUIT.
Jungo said his favorite thing to cook is the turkey, but not in the traditional way.
“I remove all the bones and roll it up and tie it and smoke it on my Weber grill for 45 minutes. Mmmm,” he said.
Student Christina Clanton said at her house, it’s a more traditional holiday meal and her contributions are apple sausage stuffing and cranberry salad.
Cynthia Headley said she had to be enrolled in culinary school before she was able to step into her family kitchen on Thanksgiving.
“My mom has always been the one in charge of Thanksgiving, and she actually gave me control last year. Of course she hovered over me the entire time,” Headley said, and it must have gone well. “I’m in control again this year.”
It’s a first for student Kyle Wells as well.
“I have never cooked for Thanksgiving before so this year I’m making the pumpkin pie,” said Wells, who’s pretty confident in his abilities to make the iconic holiday dish. “All the upperclassmen have told me how to do it; it seems easy enough.”
All of the students who are cooking for the holiday said the lessons and skills they’ve learned in the Culinary Arts will definitely help them on Thanksgiving.
“Doing what we do here in the kitchens (at OSUIT) will make cooking at home for Thanksgiving so much easier and faster,” Headley said.