Students in the Culinary Arts program at Meridian Technology Center are getting into the holiday season a little early this year. The annual Thanksgiving Luncheon at Meridian Technology Center is set for November 14. With less than two weeks until a projected 1,400 guests arrive on campus, Perkins student Kylie Payne and Stillwater student Sidra Atsye are busy looking at both the big picture and the smallest of details.
As team leaders for this year's event, the two are responsible for everything from planning to plating for the big day.
"It's been a great challenge," Payne said, comparing her current responsibilities to her role during last year's luncheon. "There's certainly more pressure, but there will also be more reward."
Atsye and Payne were selected by their classmates, Culinary Arts staff and instructors to serve as team leaders for the school's annual Thanksgiving feast. Together they will lead a group of more than 30 students in preparation for a meal that takes place during a short, flavorful and action-packed, two-hour window.
"It's important that we have the right people working in the right positions," Atsye said, describing what she considered the most important task as team leader. "One of the first things we did as team leaders was talk with students and figure out what their strengths are. We tried our best to match them with the jobs that we need to get done. Even though this event is a lot of work, we want it to be something fun for everyone involved."
Payne and Atsye have made communication a central component of their event planning.
"With so much going on in a short period of time, communication is critical," Payne said. "We want people to be able to focus on what they are doing but still have fun. The success of every job ties into this being an enjoyable experience for the students preparing the meal as well as the guests who are coming to celebrate with us."
It will take more than 500 pounds of potatoes, 450 pounds of turkey, 300 pounds of ham and 20 gallons of gravy to produce the traditional Thanksgiving fare to feed the anticipated guests.
"The students learn about teamwork, working on a deadline and about trusting each other to follow through," said Donna Cantrell, Culinary Arts Instructor at Meridian. "From preparation of the food to the decorations on the table, this luncheon provides an opportunity for the students to work with staff in producing this wonderful community event."
While the role of team leader comes with extra responsibilities, Atsye sees it as something that can set her apart when she enters the culinary industry upon graduation from Meridian. "This certainly will prepare me for what I will do next," she said. "Whether it's managing a kitchen, opening a restaurant or becoming an executive chef someday, the experience coordinating a large-scale event of this caliber will set me apart from other people applying for the position. It's a privilege to be selected to help put everything together."
In addition to the Thanksgiving luncheon, there will also be items on display for a silent auction benefiting the Stillwater Area United Way.
Alane Zannotti, co-chair of Meridian's United Way campaign, says it's a great way to give back to the community. "We are proud to be a part of the communities served by the Stillwater Area United Way and to be able to give back. This also happens to be a great way to get people involved in a good cause while they're enjoying our annual luncheon," she said.
The buffet luncheon will be served in The Terrace and The Skywalk at Meridian Technology Center, 1312 South Sangre Road on Thursday, November 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The price is $10 per person. For more information on the Thanksgiving Luncheon or the silent auction call (405) 377-3333. A list of menu items can be found at www.meridiantech.edu/agratefulgathering.
For more information or to enroll visit www.meridiantech.edu or contact a career counselor by phone at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.