Holiday meals provide emotional and physical nourishment for our clients. Chef Reynolds Stewart of Cityteam San Jose, a faith-based non-profit providing food, shelter and transformational programs, credits quality ingredients from Second Harvest for supporting his dedication to service.

On November 1st, Cityteam begins collecting cranberry sauce, canned vegetables, and some of the 500 pounds of potatoes that will be served on Thanksgiving Day. Even roasting turkeys commences weeks before the holiday with 150 cooked in an oven that only fits 12 birds at a time. Roasted off in batches, these turkeys then undergo a fast freeze in broth and wait until Thanksgiving.

Fresh, healthy produce from Second Harvest forms the foundation of Chef Reynolds’ cooking. He looks forward to shopping at our warehouse, for the sky-high crates of vibrant zucchini make the building “feel like heaven.” He is thankful for the freedom to build meals on healthy components—breakfasts always include steaming eggs, colorful fruits, meats and energizing pastries.

On Thanksgiving Day, Cityteam opens its doors at 6 AM with breakfast featuring a made-to-order omelet bar. Despite the intense Thanksgiving preparation, the team greets residents and local homeless communities with a carefully-prepared and nourishing breakfast.

With 26 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Chef Reynolds preserves restaurant-level quality. Supplementing the canned cranberry sauce, he prepares a homemade rendition with fresh berries yielding a tart sweetness and a stuffing layering 150 pounds of browned sausage on 200 pounds of cloud-like fresh bread.

Chef Reynolds’ Thanksgiving Meal

During the day’s big rush from 10:30 AM – 12 PM, 500 guests are served. Patrons proceed through one of 10 foot washing stations, eight barbers, and extensive closets of lightly used shoes and clothing. Meanwhile, 40 volunteers reset tables, clean and serve dessert in the dining room.

Chef Reynolds transforms the dining hall into a family living room where rooting for a hometown football team breaks up repeated plates of leftovers. Many patrons face uncertainty regarding their next meal, but on Thanksgiving they sit back under the care of friendly volunteers and abundant food.

Eventually, Chef Reynolds leaves the kitchen and adopts the roles of maître d’ and moderator. He values engaging with patrons and affirms, “Sometimes we make people seem invisible. They can’t feel invisible when they’re with us. They smile and say wow, they served me and noticed me.” We thank him for providing the highest standards of food, service and care to our clients.