PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Executive chef Patrick Kehler says cooking Thanksgiving dinner for more than 3,000 people is a labor of love. The chef started prepping his kitchen at the Phoenix Convention Center six days ago.
"We have about 2,000 pounds of turkey this year, about 1,800 pounds of potatoes, 1,000 pounds of stuffing, 90 pounds of butter, and 100 pounds of love," he said. "Basically, all the turkeys and potatoes and all that come in, we stack it out, we get organized as to what needs to be fired, what needs to be marinated and delegate it to different areas."
Major Nancy Dihle says the Thanksgiving feast is for everyone.
"Even though the economy has begun to turn around, it still takes some time to do it," she said. "We find a lot of our neighbors on the streets and people that live in homes that don't have the ability to support themselves."
This year, 1,000 people will enjoy a meal served at the convention center. Another 2,500 will eat a meal packed by one of dozens of volunteers, some of whom are here for the first time.
"I want to give back to help other people who are less fortunate," Michelle Lauria said.
Some of whom have been here for the last 15 years.
"There's a lot more people involved then there used to be, much nicer people," Nayna said. "It's amazing, people get up at 5 a.m., come and do this."
Chef Kehler and his crew, the volunteers and the workers at the Salvation Army are all happy to put a smile on so many faces this Thanksgiving.
"It's gratifying everyday to cook for people, it's instant gratification to see them smile," he said.