What it takes to feed the Wildcat football team on Thanksgiving

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Wildcat football team just finished an inspiring season, overcoming a sluggish start to finish with an NCAA playoff berth. Last week, while classmates headed home for the Thanksgiving holiday and mini break, the team stayed behind to prepare for its first-round playoff game at Cowell Stadium. In an ultimate show of support, campus chefs stayed around, too, delivering Thanksgiving dinner for about 100 teammates and family members at Stillings Hall

UNH Today asked chef David Cande just what it takes to make Thanksgiving dinner for a hungry team. Here’s what he said:


UNH football team at Thanksgiving dinner
UNH football team at Thanksgiving dinner

First, we needed to know how many players would join us for Thanksgiving dinner. Once we had that number, we multiplied it by two because these 20-year-old athletes are big and strong and eat a lot more than we regular adults! 

Turkey: For 100 people in attendance, we had 108 pounds of boneless turkey breast. All of it was slow-roasted to a nice golden brown. 

Mashed Potatoes: We prepared 75 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes with six pounds of butter and 12 pounds of light cream, bringing us to just about 100 pounds of mashed potatoes.

Stuffing & Gravy: Stuffing is another Thanksgiving staple, and we prepared enough for 200 people, which is approximately another 75 pounds. The standard portions we use for gravy are:  two ounces for mashed potatoes and two ounces for turkey and stuffing for a total of four ounces per guest.  We’ll get (32) four-ounce servings per gallon and plan a minimum of four total gallons of gravy. (But I always prepare six gallons to be on the safe side!)

Vegetables: Vegetables come in a little lighter at 60 pounds total. We have some traditional favorites — roasted butternut squash with a maple topping and green bean almondine.  

Additional Favorites: Feeding the UNH football team on the fourth Thursday of November isn’t all about turkey. These Wildcats need red meat! We seasoned overnight a 60-pound roast to a perfect “medium” of 131 degrees of melt-in-your-mouth choice prime rib of beef. 

Daniel Rowe with a member of the UNH Dining staff
Daniel Rowe (right) of Orange, New Jersey, with a member of the UNH Dining staff.

But wait, there’s more!

The players have other favorites — macaroni and cheese, Caesar salad, monkey bread and rolls and butter — and we made sure there were plenty of all of those, too.   

Dessert: After all of that hearty food, they needed something sweet to top it off. The team requested and we provide two favorites, strawberry cheesecake and pecan pie. 

And that’s what it takes to feed our UNH Wildcats!


Congratulations to the Wildcat football team on a successful season. See you next year in the new stadium! 


UNH football players with UNH chef on Thanksgiving