It’s crunch time inside La Quinta Culinary Arts Kitchen Academy.
Some are sauteing Brussels sprouts, others are taking bread to the oven, and Nick Ramirez is making gravy from scratch.
“So what does it take to make a good gravy?” I ask.
“Bold flavors, nice consistency and a lot of love,” responds Ramirez.
Everything has to be perfect.
These chefs in training have been preparing this meal for days and have been up since 7:00 a.m., Thursday, cooking a traditional Thanksgiving meal for nearly 200 veterans and first responders for their annual feed the heroes event.
“I’m just glad we can give back to the community that helps us everyday, and all the times we need them they’re always there for us so this is just a thanks to them,” says Julianna Gould, a sophomore student in the program.
They say all their hard work pays off when they finally get to serve up their special meal.
“Turkey, ham, yams, dressing, mashed potatoes, wow!” says Edward Johnson, a Vietnam veteran, as he proudly holds up the plate full of food.
“Whenever I see the smile on their faces after we give them a meal it makes me tear up because I feel, it’s just, it’s joy,” says Melissa Trujillo.
And the heroes appreciate the delectable meal made from the heart.
“I can’t possibly thank them enough I wish I could but I can’t, they’re just wonderful, absolutely great food, they make you feel so welcome here, I love it,” says Patrick Sprinkel, who served in Vietnam.
“There’s just so much love here you can see the just the way they come to you at your table, it’s just really nice to be recognized,” says Jim Hawk, a combat photographer in Vietnam, as he’s overcome with emotion.
Many in the valley donate money, supplies and food to the academy to make sure this tradition continues including:
Rio Azul Mexican Grill, Honeybaked Hams, JT’s Diner, The Slice Pizzeria, and Scott Robertson, New Leaf Catering, Oscar Caters, Sysco, Ruth’s Chris Steak House.