Behind the scenes on Thanksgiving: Celebrating the hardworking dining facility staff
December 3, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - What does it take to deliver a Thanksgiving feast to more than 1,500 people at the Strong Teams Cafe?
Four turkeys, 26 hams, eight steamship round roasts, four cases and 84 cans of sweet potatoes, 160 pies, 18 boxes of cornbread mix, attention to detail, weeks of preparation and hours spent cooking, decorating and serving -- among other things.
"It's all worth it when you see all of the people here enjoying the food and spending time with their families," said Staff Sgt. Shawn Shannon, dining facility manager and one of the many Soldiers and civilians hard at work hours before the big Thanksgiving feast on Wiesbaden's Clay Kaserne Nov. 28. "My wife and child are coming here as well."
"We start prepping roughly two to three months in advance of Thanksgiving," said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel McGowan, senior food operations sergeant. "That includes planning, ordering the decorations and making sure the trucks get here on time."
As the serving hour neared, McGowan said they were projecting about 1,600 diners for the holiday meal. "Last year we had a head count of 1,321."
The dining facility manager said he was proud of the hard work and dedication of the Strong Teams staff and gave a hat's off to the many late nights spent by the men and women in preparation. "Without them, none of this would be possible."
"I've been doing this for eight years now in Wiesbaden," said Rudolph Rudolfo, supervisor of the civilian staff, explaining that one gets used to the heavy demand for service on the holiday.
"I'm very happy to see the kids smiling," Rudolfo said. "You're tired, but it's a good feeling to see the customers happy."
As the last ice sculptures, cakes, decorations and shrimp cocktails were put in place; cooks stirred huge pots of carrots and soup; and roasts waited in the serving line for the first customers -- Tracy Anderson and John Huebner were busy doing pre-wash in the kitchen.
"Thanksgiving means sharing --helping people out," said Anderson, "such as back in the States at soup lines. This gets you in the Christmas spirit."
"We're here more than we're at home," added Huebner.
As the 11 a.m. opening time neared, guests lined up ready to stream into the Strong Teams Cafe with gratitude for the tireless efforts of the hardworking crew in the Strong Teams Cafe.
As one diner observed, "The meal was great and the decorations beautiful. Thanks to all who made it possible."