Union Rescue Mission’s Chef Delilah knows that Thanksgiving is about more than great food – it’s about family.
All my life, I wanted to be a chef. I spent my childhood watching chefs like Paula Deen and Rachael Ray on TV, and I dreamed of one day hosting my own cooking show. I never dreamed of cooking meals on Skid Row.
So after high school, I pursued my dream and studied at the Cordon Bleu cooking school. Later, I catered food for the Twilight films, TV shows like True Blood and Desperate Housewives, and even for the Oscars and the Grammys! I was on my way!
But God had other plans. In April 2011, Union Rescue Mission invited me to cook full-time for men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. Tiring of the instability of catering work, I thought, Sure. Why not?
Skid Row didn’t intimidate me – but suddenly having to prepare meals for 2,000 people per day sure did! At first, it was hard to keep up. I’d never worked so hard. But that was nothing compared to Thanksgiving – and the prospect of serving 4,000 people at one time!
I’d never spent Thanksgiving with people experiencing homelessness.
I didn’t know what to expect. Thanksgiving was always one of the best days of the year in my family – the food, the laughter, the hugs, and the family bonding. What would it be like on Skid Row?
There was so much food to prepare, we had to start a week before. We baked pasta, prepared yams, mixed gravy, and made stuffing. I cooked almost 100 turkeys in five hours – it was crazy! The final two days leading up to our Thanksgiving event, I never went to bed. As guests showed up to eat, I worked in the kitchen. My back hurt, my feet ached, I was covered in sweat. But I still had no idea how the event was going.
Finally, about 3:00 p.m., my boss said, “Let’s go look.” It was unbelievable. The decorations, the music and happiness – thousands of people who may have been struggling in their personal lives, but today they were family. And I thought, Yeah, this is what it’s all about.
Now, Thanksgiving is already around the corner again, and I’m already looking forward to it – even the exhaustion, pain, and adrenaline. But more important, I’m looking forward to family. Yes, the men, women, and children at Union Rescue Mission are my family now.
This Thanksgiving, you ask me what I’m grateful for? Serving here. There was a time I worked in the midst of all the glitter and glamour of Hollywood. Now I can’t see myself working anywhere but Skid Row.
Help make this year’s Thanksgiving our best one ever with your generous gift today!
Chef Delilah is not only a first-class cook, her personality lights up the room. She helped make last year’s Thanksgiving our best celebration ever!
Every year at Thanksgiving, we invite more than 4,000 men, women, and children experiencing homelessness into our “home” for a special party, complete with all the hugs, love, and laughter that make this a true “family” event.
I think it’s this “family” spirit that makes our Thanksgiving celebrations so remarkable. Time and time again, I hear hurting men and women tell me that was the day that convinced them to give life another try.
But our Thanksgiving isn’t possible without caring people like you. So as we approach the season, thank you for being part of this big, extraordinary family!