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Community effort, educational opportunity blend to serve thousands of free Thanksgiving meals

  • Holiday Inn Executive Chef John Dukette oversees as Impact Academy culinary student Hayden Badeau as he pours a butter seasoning mix over one of the 110 turkeys they are preparing for the Windmill Restaurant annual Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday morning, November 23, 2021. Dukette decided three years ago to do something to help on Thanksgiving and it has turned into this and much more. Now the students from Impact Academy learn the culinary arts and he helps the Windmill with their charitable event. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Holiday Inn Executive Chef John Dukette oversees Impact Academy culinary students work on the 110 turkeys they are preparing for the Windmill Restaurant annual Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday morning, November 23, 2021. Dukette decided three years ago to do something to help on Thanksgiving and it has turned into this and much more. Now the students from Impact Academy learn the culinary arts and he helps the Windmill with their charitable event. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Holiday Inn Executive Chef John Dukette oversees as IMPACCT Academy culinary student Hayden Badeau pours a butter seasoning mix over one of the 110 turkeys they are preparing for the Windmill Restaurant annual Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday morning. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • IMPACCT Academy culinary students and Holiday Inn staff work the pie crusts for the apple pies for the Windmill Restaurant annual Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Impact Academy culinary students work on the 110 turkeys they are preparing for the Windmill Restaurant annual Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday morning, November 23, 2021. Holiday Inn Executive Chef JohnDukette decided three years ago to do something to help on Thanksgiving and it has turned into this and much more. Now the students from Impact Academy learn the culinary arts and he helps the Windmill with their charitable event. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Holiday Inn Executive Chef John Dukette oversees Impact Academy culinary students work on the 110 turkeys they are preparing for the Windmill Restaurant annual Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday morning, November 23, 2021. Dukette decided three years ago to do something to help on Thanksgiving and it has turned into this and much more. Now the students from Impact Academy learn the culinary arts and he helps the Windmill with their charitable event. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/23/2021 4:29:51 PM

Inside the kitchen at the Holiday Inn in Concord, culinary arts student Hayden Badeau had his hands full basting rows of turkeys nested atop a mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions.

Nearby, Executive Chef John Dukette gave directions to Badeau and the other students who were helping to prepare hundreds of Thanksgiving meals that will be served for free at the Windmill Restaurant on Thursday.

“Today, we’re just getting ready for the big reveal on Thursday,” Dukette said Tuesday.

Employees at the Windmill, located on Loudon Road, have been prepping for the big meal for more than a month. Dukette and the students from IMPACCT Academy have been working for the past three weeks. Together they have readied 110 turkeys along with piles of apple pies, stuffing and sides. All of the food to prepare nearly 2,000 meals has been donated.

This year, the Windmill is offering the meals through take out from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., or until the food runs out. They are trying to limit groups to five meals each to make sure there is enough food to go around.

“We want to make sure we’re reaching the population that needs it the most,” said Michael Smirnioudis, the youngest of three brothers who run the family restaurant.

The workers at the Windmill have been volunteering hours before and after their shifts cleaning, cooking, and peeling. In the next few days they will spend hours upon hours packing the meals and serving them on Thanksgiving day.

It’s a monumental undertaking that began 30 years ago by patriarch Louie Smirnioudis, who passed away in 2013. The tradition grew year after year and has continued under the leadership of George and Kosmas Smirnioudis. As the effort to provide free holiday meals has expanded, so has the number of people who pitch in to make sure everything gets done in time.

“We have a lot of people we appreciate,” Michael Smirnioudis said.

The high school students helping to prepare meals at the Holiday Inn participate in IMPACCT Academy, which is run through Granite State Independent Living. The program is intended to give students the skills to enter the workplace, including working on resumes, cover letters, and job training. IMPACCT stands for Inspiring the Mastery of Post-Secondary Achievement in College, Career, and Training.

Once the turkeys are cooked at the Holiday Inn, they are delivered to the Windmill along with all the other food the students prepared.

And then on Thursday, Dukette joins the army of servers to get the food out to the community.

Meals may be reserved in advance by calling the Windmill Restaurant at (603) 225-0600 or by drive up on Thanksgiving day.




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