WIESBADEN, Germany -- You could tell the food was being made with love on Thanksgiving at the Wiesbaden Dining Facility.
As cooks hustled through the kitchens preparing roasts, stuffing, vegetables and hundreds of buns for baking, they couldn't help but throw a few dance moves into the mix. And from the smiles on diners' faces it was obvious the positive groove in the kitchen had permeated the cooking.
"It's very busy in the kitchen, but the atmosphere is very good," said Silvia Gimesi as she prepared sweet potatoes for cooking. Gimesi laughed as several of her fellow cooks broke out some inspired dance steps.
"We started yesterday (the day before Thanksgiving) at 6:30 a.m. preparing for Thanksgiving," said Sgt. 1st Class Jose Pineda, dining facility manager, "and came in at 5 a.m. today."
The dining facility manager rattled off a few ingredients for the holiday fare: 45 full turkeys, 300 servings of steak, 30 hams, two full pork roasts, 50 each of every different pie including sweet potato, pumpkin, apple and cherry. He added that the dining facility staff started working on the festive décor weeks before the holiday.
As diners lined up well before the 11 a.m. opening Nov. 22, they were greeted by a host of special features on display throughout the facility including a tepee, special holiday unit cakes, a children's play area and a wide range of seasonal decorations. These included giving the dining area a taste of the Mayflower -- a boat hull and sails on the salad bar and other special features.
"We included information on the displays so that people could read about some of the traditions on the Mayflower (and Plymouth Rock)," Pineda said.
As Brig. Gen. Bruce Crawford, commander of the 5th Signal Command, made a few remarks to welcome diners, remember those still serving in harm's way and thanked the staff for their hard work, officers and senior noncommissioned officers from various Wiesbaden units and decked out in their dress blues took their places behind the serving line to await the first guests.
Then the signal was given and the first diners filed into the Victory Café Dining Facility. By day's end, more than 1,300 patrons had enjoyed the holiday feast.
Feedback on the garrison's Facebook page attested to patron satisfaction:
"I was there and it was outstanding," reported Maggs Vibo. "There was attention to every detail and the decorations were above and beyond. Thank you for making my day special."
"Thank you to all those who made Thanksgiving a great meal. … The food was hot, great tasting and plentiful," wrote Allen Pierce. "The personnel were more than helpful and courteous."
"Outstanding -- wonderful selection of choices. I loved the beef, stuffing and collard greens," added Angela Roelofs.