By Jim DresbachNovember 21, 2018
For the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Dining Facility staff, Thanksgiving week is their Super Bowl and preparations for the holiday mega-meal run from first-shift pastry decorating to overnight bird roasting.
The nonstop baking, frosting, sautéing, and mashing culmulated with the serving of close to 300 pounds of turkey, 180 pounds of ham, and 100 pounds of whipped potatoes to hundreds of Soldiers, Marines, other members of the armed service, and joint base staff members Tuesday.
With a spread that may cause uniform button-popping, the Thanksgiving meal served at the dining facility reads, sounds, and plays like a culinary Twelve Days of Christmas: 12 dozen cupcakes, hundreds of barbequed meatballs, 200 pounds of prime rib, and many assorted pies.
"This is when we pull out all the stops," said Dining Facility Manager Staff Sgt. Kevin Arwood. "We're doing things we don't normally do to make this our most special meal."
According to Arwood, kitchen preparations started Sunday with the creation of 750 dinner rolls. Monday, the cranberry relish was finished, and fruit was cut for the appetizer platters. By Monday afternoon, the sweet potato casserole was finished setting up for a graveyard shift in charge of cooking Thanksgiving's main attractions.
"A team will come in Monday night at 10 p.m. to start cooking the meats," Arwood said. "On Tuesday around 9:30 a.m., all the meats get carved up. Including myself, a total of 27 Soldiers will cook with a team of four working overnight."
Also working the bulk of Monday was a team preparing pastries, cupcakes, and sheet cakes. DFAC teams received guidance and encouragement from dessert-decorating gurus Melissa Powell and Victoria Amavisca of Poppyjeans of Waldorf, Maryland.
One sheet cake -- featuring a turkey headpiece complemented with maple-flavored frosting -- was constructed and created by Spc. Kamille Torres and Pfc. Amaury Cruz.
"The turkey took us one whole day (to make)," Powell said. "We also created all the leaves and pumpkins (on the cake)."
Pies ranging the gambit from cherry, apple, pumpkin, and sweet potato to cookies and brownies were also available while JBM-HH command manned the chow hall line to serve turkey, ham, salmon, and prime rib.
Over 500 people visited the JBM-HH dining facility to sample the dressings -- a cornbread apple sausage cornbread variety and an herb stuffing -- were served as well as collard greens, corn on the cob, and the Thanksgiving regular, whipped potatoes.
Pentagram Staff Writer Jim Dresbach can be reached at email@example.com.