For decades, the Sonoma Community Center has hosted upwards of 350 diners for Thanksgiving, who enjoy a gourmet feast prepared by a crew of talented chefs – all for free. In fact, the holiday has become so popular, it has outgrown capacity at the center, prompting a move to the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building this year.
“We had guests sitting in the staircases and wandering the halls, plates in hand, looking for somewhere to sit,” said Sonoma Community Center Executive Director Toni Castrone. “We want to be sure that everyone feels welcome and gets to be a part of the fun. The vets building is much larger than Andrews Hall, and is well-suited for this type of event.”
Aside from the change in venue, the event will be essentially the same when it rolls around on Thursday, Nov. 28. Gary Edwards will again lead a crew of all-volunteer chefs, who preparing a largely organic and locally sourced meal utilizing area producers such as Paul’s Produce, Green Strings Farm and Basque Boulangerie. Once again, the community center’s guardian angel, the Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley, is stepping up by contributing nearly 100 organic Willie Bird turkeys. Whole Foods will also offer ingredients for the day’s feast. Attendees are asked to bring a dessert to share with the group, and wine will be available for purchase by the glass. As always, there is no cost to enjoy the dinner, but donations are accepted to help defray the cost of hosting the event.
On Thanksgiving Day, the gourmet buffet will open at 3 p.m. and continue serving hungry patrons until 5 p.m. Live holiday music will set the festive mood. As always, the event is only possible thanks to a team of volunteers who help with everything from serving plates to cleaning up after the party. Volunteers ages 12 and up can sign up for shifts by contacting the center at 936-4626, ext. 1, or online at sonomacommunitycenter.org.
Vintage House senior center is also known for its full and free Thanksgiving dinner. Hundreds of Valley seniors take part in the meal, either enjoying a seated dinner at Vintage House, or ordering a meal to have a home, which are delivered hot by the Kiwanis Club of Sonoma. Wayne Gordon has led the kitchen staff at Vintage House for years, but this year has taken on a sous chef in Claude Boudin, who will learn the ropes of how to throw a feast for hundreds in just a few days. Boudin is an experienced chef, who throws a monthly dinner for the American Legion, meaning he knows how to cook for a crowd.
Volunteers are also needed to help out with everything from cooking to serving to cleaning up after the holiday meal. Volunteers can sign up by calling Vintage House at 996-0311.