A Dinner of Pumpkins and Turkey: Commons Celebrates Fall with Farm To Fork Event

With seasonal ingredients such as pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, cranberries and turkey, the chefs at Paresky Commons served a Farm to Fork dinner in celebration of National Food Day in the Smith Center last Friday.

Celebrated nationwide to promote healthier and more sustainable eating, National Food Day features thousands of events around the country to help Americans enjoy higher quality food and push for reformed food policies.

To celebrate the day, a culinary team headed by Mike Giampa, Food Service Director and Paul Robarge, Senior Food Service Director, prepared a meal in hopes of exemplifying the purpose of National Food Day. The fall-themed menu featured ingredients sourced almost entirely from local vendors.

“The meal was a fall theme because of the season but also because who doesn’t love a turkey dinner? It’s a classic meal that everybody seems to like and it was easy to serve in the Smith Center,” said Giampa.

The menu centered around classic fall ingredients. Dishes served include roasted turkey and squash, Thai pumpkin curry with jasmine rice, homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce.

“The centerpiece was the turkey, we bought our turkeys from Raymond’s turkey farm. Everyone around here knows if you want fresh turkey, you go there. It’s local and it’s fresh, the turkeys were slaughtered the night before,” said Giampa.

A significant amount of planning had to be done for Andover’s second annual Farm to Fork dinner, such as contacting vendors and sourcing all the ingredients from local farms.

“When we had to place orders for everything most of the vendors already knew me. Last year was more difficult as it was the first time we had done this on such a massive scale but this time around we had already laid the groundwork. From here on out future events like this should be pretty easy,” said Giampa.

One of the challenges the culinary team faced in the planning process of the dinner was sourcing local produce. The problem with local vendors, according to Giampa, is that they sometimes can’t hold the sheer volume of produce needed by a large school such as Andover.

“When we tried to get our potatoes from local vendors none of them had the quantity we needed so we eventually turned to a farm in Maine that could meet our demands,” said Giampa.

According to Giampa, the meal turned out to be a success, with a huge turnout at the Smith Center.

“My parents and I loved the Thanksgiving themed dinner on Friday night. It was a great way to catch up while eating comfort food. We had a great time, and my favorite dish was the stuffing,” said Mekedas Belayneh ’18.