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Schools Rule: Mason culinary students cook Thanksgiving meal for more than 800 peers

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 5:37 PM EST
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MASON, Mich. (WILX) - If you’re the one who cooks your family’s Thanksgiving meal, you know more than anyone the stress behind the preparation. Now imagine cooking that same meal for more than 800 students -- Students at one Mid-Michigan School did just that.

Students in the Culinary Arts Program at the Wilson Talent Center could tell you exactly what it takes to feed an entire school. 210 pounds of turkey, 26 gallons of gravy, 200 pounds of stuffing, 200 pounds of potatoes, 200 pounds of green bean casserole and 180 pounds of cranberry relish. That’s what it takes to feed all of your classmates.

Baylee Pfiester, an instructor in the Culinary Arts Program, said students are in charge of everything, including the Three P’s of culinary art: preparation, portioning and production. The students spend weeks preparing so that it’s ready in time for Thanksgiving.

“We had to get the students involved with the math with that, how we do a single portion and then how we scale our recipes and do a new yield on our recipes to get the amount that we needed for the 824 students,” said Pfiester.

And student Emaleigh Keast said there’s a lot more work to do before they can even start cooking the feast.

“It’s a lot of hard work at first. We have to do a lot of bookwork to get where we are right now but after that,” Keast said. “It is a lot of fun and you get a lot of hands-on experience.”

After weeks of planning and prepping, the students were finally able to show off their hard work. Student Maya Marsh said their hard work was well worth it.

“It’s nice to see everything come together because you see it in parts and you know it’s a lot but it doesn’t register that it’s this amount of food,” said Marsh. “At the end of the day, we’re going to have a clean kitchen which is something we haven’t had in a while.”

Students at the Wilson Talent Center choose to attend as the school offers programs not offered in many high schools. Instructor Megan Smith said that, in a way, the meal is also a way to say thank you to their students for attending Wilson Talent Center.

“We also understand here that there are times that some of the students in the building maybe don’t have the means at home to have as elaborate as a Thanksgiving spread as what we’re going to provide today. So it gives them at least one good solid thanksgiving meal for the holiday,” said Smith.

The Wilson Talent Center Culinary Arts Program cooks meals for their students every Thanksgiving.

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