Chefs cook free Christmas dinner

December 23, 2000

Chefs cook free Christmas dinner

Editor's note: This is the last in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize individuals and groups who make the holidays better for others.

By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer

Christmas starts at work for Scott Stouffer and Larry Hawkins.

The two kitchen chefs at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel on Dual Highway in Hagerstown oversee the food preparations for Christmas dinner at the hotel restaurant.

The restaurant isn't open for business on what they say is its busiest day of the year. Its packed with volunteers and visitors for the annual "Christmas with Nick," a free holiday feast offered by hotel owner Nick Giannaris.

Christmas with Nick is now in its 14th year and Stouffer, 42, and Hawkins, 43, both of Hagerstown, have volunteered for every one.


"It's a way for people to give something to the community," Hawkins said.

"It's a good cause. You see the fortunate and the not so fortunate here together. ... It doesn't feel like work," Stouffer said.

Hawkins and Stouffer are in charge of making sure all the food is cooked and ready for the Christmas dinner, which begins with ordering the food a couple of weeks before the big day.

The cooking starts a couple of days before Christmas.

There's about 30 turkeys weighing 20 to 25 pounds each, around 15 hams, 450 to 500 pounds of potatoes and 200 to 250 pounds of bread used to make stuffing.

"We do most of the cooking with the help of everyone from the line cooks to the dishwashers," Stouffer said.

They get to work around 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. Christmas morning to jump start the final food preparations and then head home to their wives and children.

"Christmas morning we come in and knock out some gravy and soup," Stouffer said.

"And line up the volunteers," Hawkins said.

"We make sure it gets cooked. But without everyone in the kitchen it wouldn't come together," Hawkins said.

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