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Nugget chefs prepare Thanksgiving meals for St. Vincent’s in Reno for over six decades

Ray Brashears is inside an industrial kitchen wearing a white apron and baseball cap. He’s pouring gravy stock from a large silver pot onto an aluminum tray of sliced turkey.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Nugget Casino Resort’s assistant room chef of the main kitchen, Ray Brashears, prepares turkey for Thanksgiving meals to be served at Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada’s St. Vincent’s Dining Room on Nov. 23, 2022, in Sparks, Nev.

For more than 60 years, chefs with the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks have prepared Thanksgiving meals for Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada’s St. Vincent’s Dining Room.

It’s the first time assistant room chef Ray Brashears is cooking for the occasion. The former construction worker stands at a long counter with stacks of turkey, carving away.

“Tomorrow’s the big show. It’s like Super Bowl for us. Thousand pounds of mashed potatoes and 500 pounds of stuffing,” Brashears said.

Brashears and one other chef are preparing roughly 1,100 meals, most of which will go to St. Vincent’s and the rest to the Nevada Cares Campus homeless shelter and Eddy House youth shelter. Some food is also for Nugget employees working Thursday.

Brashears said it makes him happy to know his hard work will be someone’s hot meal for Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving, for me, is a time for everybody to sit down and be equal. Put all our problems away, all the social classes. All of everybody’s issues can be set aside for at least one day, and we can all enjoy the same meal and with the same dignity. So that’s what it means for me,” Brashears said.

Over the pandemic, the need for Catholic Charities’ services has increased.

“We saw a big uptick, and it never really slowed down. So, now that we’re seeing, you know, increased inflation, gas prices are going up, there’s a lot of fluctuation for people even in the job market. And so we do see more and more people coming,” said Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada CEO Marie Baxter.

Baxter says St. Vincent’s serves anyone, but their largest clients include people experiencing homelessness and seniors. She said food can be a great segue into finding out what other resources people need.

Meals will be served on Thursday, November 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Vincent’s Dining Room at 325 Valley Road in Reno.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America focusing on community reporting and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local community issues are her passion, including the affordable housing crisis, homelessness, a lack of access to healthcare, protests and challenges facing vulnerable communities in northern Nevada.
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