This Thanksgiving, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and advisory guidelines urging families to limit the size of gatherings, many may find themselves tasked with cooking a turkey and all its fixings for the first time. Some may feel overwhelmed, or may not fully understand the safety precautions associated with preparing a turkey.
In response, the Ulster BOCES Adult Career Education Center has produced, “Turkey Safety and What to do with the Leftovers,” the first in a series of holiday cooking videos. The free video, which can be viewed here, features two Ulster BOCES Culinary Arts instructors, Chef Justin Nahow and Chef Elise Macur. Both chefs are graduates of the Culinary Institute of America.
The video gives cooks (both novice and “well-seasoned” ones) important safety protocols for preparing the turkey and preserving leftovers correctly. “Being able to work together to educate the public on such an important matter as food safety really excited us,” said Chef Macur, who graduated from the Ulster BOCES Culinary Arts program.
“It's fascinating to us how many people do unsafe things with food in their home. That’s why culinary education about how to safely handle a big meal like Thanksgiving is so important,” she remarked. “These techniques will help prevent a holiday foodborne illness fiasco. Everyone wants to just be tired after eating a grand meal, not sick.”
The Thanksgiving meal is something Macur has been preparing since she was a child. “It really is a two-day event,” she said. She and her father always spent the Wednesday before the big day planning the menu and shopping for groceries. And then, from 7 AM on Thursday, “We’d be cooking up a storm.” she remembered. Macur added that she still uses the protocols and practices she learned from her grandmother and father, as well as those she learned during her time as a student at Ulster BOCES, every day, even outside of work. “My home fridge is the most organized and labeled thing out there.”
The Thanksgiving meal holds special meaning for Macur. “I fell in love with watching my grandmother make pies every season, and they are my favorite to make even now. Nothing is more American than good ole pie!”
Learning to cook is not only economically empowering, but also very satisfying, said Macur. “Culinary education is something everyone should have,” she said. “The concept of a home-cooked meal is the most welcoming act of service you will ever experience. Cooking is expressing love to others, even to yourself. You might not want to do it for a career, but being able to cook for yourself and for others in any capacity is an amazing gift.”
Eugene Knudsen, director of the Adult Career Education Center, said there are plans already under way for many more “video lessons” of this kind, starting with a live-streamed holiday series in December, and then potentially, once it is safer, a hybrid instruction model involving a limited number of students. “We are hoping to reach others beyond the walls of our building, to audiences not only in Ulster County or New York State, but even beyond,” he said. “This video not only sets the stage for the next month or two, but for years to come.”
- Adult Education