Cooks pitching in for holiday dinner | AspenTimes.com

Cooks pitching in for holiday dinner

John Colson

More than 500 people from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley are expected to sit down to the seventh annual free Holiday Dinner on Dec. 4 at the Heritage Park Care Center.A select group of more than a dozen chefs from restaurants and catering services up and down the Roaring Fork Valley are all set to dive into the cooking tasks.All that’s needed now, the event’s main organizer said, are volunteers to help with the four-course meals, which will be served in two separate dining rooms and a large party tent to be erected on the front lawn of the 188-bed retirement and nursing-home center in Carbondale.As at past events, the diners will not only include residents at Heritage Park and their families, but also members of the Carbondale and Rural Volunteer Fire Department, the Carbondale Police Department and representatives of the town government.Unlike the dinners of the past, though, will be invitees from other senior care facilities around the valley, said Heritage Park marketing director Susan Reed.”There is no competition,” she said of the senior care community in the valley, explaining that Heritage Park and the Holiday Dinner prime organizer, Jimmy Nadell of Conundrum Catering, decided to reach out to other providers as a way of showing appreciating for the work they all do.Nadell, whose mother is a resident at Heritage Park, started the dinners in 1998 primarily as a way to offer a nice meal to his mom and her fellow residents.”I think we had about 17 people at the first event,” he said this week, noting that the first three Holiday Dinners took place at restaurants he was running in Carbondale at the time – Trattoria Roma and Bisteca Toscana – but logistical difficulties prompted the event’s relocation to Heritage Park.Last year, Nadell estimated, there were approximately 450 dinners served, a record he expects to surpass this year.”It’s a fantastic event,” he declared, adding that he is still looking for about 50 volunteers to help with serving, cleanup and other duties. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact EKS Events and speak with Elizabeth, Ryan or Ellen.Conundrum Catering, The Pine Creek Cookhouse, Mambo Italiano, Back Door Catering, Big Mamma, The Kitchen Fine Catering, The Basalt Bistro, Continental Catering, Russets Restaurant, Buffalo Valley, Claddaugh’s Irish Pub, Pitkin County Bakery, as well as other top restaurants, caterers and chefs in the valley, will provide the food, Nadell said.Peak Party Rental, Event by Nora, EKS Events, Carbondale Rotary Club, and Susan’s Flowers and Gifts are also donating their services, Nadell said, and financial contributions have come from Norman Gerschman, Larkin Eilek, Western Slope Aggregate and the Earthworks Construction Co.Music to accompany the food will include the sounds of the Thelma & Louise Band, joining Haden Gregg and David Hass; acoustic sets by Rick Rock and Eddie O’Brien; and piano by Walt Smith.Donations towards the event or inquiries can be directed to Conundrum Catering at 544-6407, or Susan at Heritage Park at 963-1500.

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