On Thanksgiving afternoon, Westborough residents will share in eight 25- to 28-pound turkeys donated by Roche Bros.
And cooked by community members.
The 42nd annual Westborough Community Thanksgiving Dinner is at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Knights of Columbus Hall. Because seating is limited at this free event, reservations are required. Call 508-366-3000 to make a reservation and schedule transportation.
Support from Westborough’s community groups and businesses help make the event special, says Joe Pucciarelli, who is coordinating it for the third year. Anyone interested in volunteering should call Pucciarelli at 508-366-2852.
“I go and I ask various companies, and uniformly the response I get is ‘What do you need?’ It’s not, ‘Can I have?’ It’s ‘What do you need? Are you sure you don’t need anything else?’ They’re just incredibly generous,” Pucciarelli says.
Volunteers typically cook for 150 people, he says. The leftovers go home in plastic containers.
“A lot of folks that came had a nice meal and took out a nice serving of leftovers. Because part of the fun of Thanksgiving is the leftovers,” Pucciarelli says.
Two years ago, organizers changed the cooking method to restaurant style, he says.
“Restaurants cook turkeys very different than home style. Home style, you stuff the turkey and you put it in the oven for six or eight hours. In a restaurant, what you do is you actually de-bone the turkey, and then you cook it in sections, and you cook it the night before. Then, what you do is, the morning before you re-heat it, you portion it out, and then you re-heat it with the sauce,” Pucciarelli explains.
“Restaurants do it so they can give precisely the same amount of turkey to people. We do it because it’s much more efficient.”
There will be a change in the kitchen this year, though.
The head chef for the past 25 years, Bob Sylvester, is “recovering from back surgery,” Pucciarelli says.
The new head chef is Stan Giegucz, who “used to run all the food service operations over at DCU” before retiring last year, Pucciarelli says.
“Bobby is sort of watching in the wings. It kills him. He’s very devoted,” he says.
The Westborough Council on Aging again is providing volunteers to “answer the phone (and) take reservations so you have some idea of how much food to cook and how many people are going to show up,” Pucciarelli says.
The council also is guiding organizers to “who needs meals delivered,” which numbered about 20 last year, he says.
The council also provides a bus and driver for people unable to drive.
The event is open to the community for the third straight year, after focusing on seniors, Pucciarelli says.
Organizes also have “tried a lot of different venues” over the years, he says.
“At one point, they invited folks to people’s homes. We’ve periodically revisited that. But, it turns out that a lot of folks are shy. They don’t like to just visit somebody’s home. Some of the churches do that, and that’s great. It’s not a question of right or wrong. There’s different options,” Pucciarelli says.