Nugget to continue Thanksgiving tradition

Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal

Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal

After 58 years, the Carson Nugget's Thanksgiving dinner is an institution in the community.

The dinner, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, is free to anyone, from families who cannot afford to prepare a Thanksgiving feast to those who choose the company of strangers on the holiday.

"Some people come year to year, I think that matters that they know we really care," Nugget General Manager Star Anderson said.

The dinner is on the second floor of the casino in the banquet hall.

This will be the first Thanksgiving cooking at the Nugget for Executive Chef James Tjeltveit, who started in time as chef for last year's December holidays.

Tjeltveit wants to bring the at-home Thanksgiving experience to the Nugget's banquet hall. He ordered 40 pounds of giblets to make giblet gravy, made from the turkeys pan drippings. But 40 pounds of giblets is nothing compared to the 1,400 pounds of ordered turkey.

"We want you to walk away thinking you had Thanksgiving dinner at your mom's house," Tjeltveit said.

The gravy isn't the only thing getting a first-class treatment: the mushroom-greenbean casserole will feature freshly fried onions and none of the turkeys came to the Nugget pre-cooked.

"Everything's fresh," he said.

Candied yams, rolls, pumpkin pies and dressing, as Montana-raised Tjeltveit refers to stuffing, will fill out the serving tables.

The turkeys have all been rubbed down with Tjeltveit's own seasoning mixture, which reflects his own cooking style: Cajun.

The past three years, attendance has hovered around 800 at the free dinner but the Nugget has prepared to feed 1,100, expecting an up-tick because of the state of the economy.

Tjeltveit graduated from the Bay Area Culinary Institute in 1984 and studied under Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme four eight months.

Volunteers man the serving stations, whether they be Nugget employees or members of the public, Anderson said.

"Our employees just enjoy it so much," she said. "We do it because our employees still want to do it and the Nugget wants to do it." Because the Nugget knows it will have the Thanksgiving feast, it budgets accordingly, Anderson said.

"It's a heart-warming day," she said.

WHAT: Carson Nugget's free Thanksgiving dinner

WHEN: 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Second floor of the Carson Nugget, 507 North Carson St.


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