SAN FRANCISCO – The Lake Merced Boathouse featured table after table of turkey, side dishes, and desserts.
All of which came from different recreation centers in San Francisco for a friendly competition over who can prepare the best Thanksgiving dinner in the 16th annual Turkey Cook-Off.
Hosted by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department the goal of the event is to celebrate the diversity of the city through food.
“The Recreation and Park Department has a lot of history and a lot of pride and this is the 16th year we’ve hosted this event,” said Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of SF Rec and Park. “It’s totally free. It’s totally open to the community and it is a great kick off to the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Filipino-American Tim Figueras is the recreation coordinator of the Gene Friend Rec Center in the South of Market neighborhood, which is historically home to many kababayans.
According to Figueras, this is the first time in years that Filipinos participated so they wanted to be sure to add a common dish found on Pinoy dinner tables.
“What else brings people together than the diversity of food,” asked Figueras. “I think that’s the big key because at our table there were people who didn’t even know what lumpia was and for us to be able to introduce lumpia to them is a huge thing.”
San Francisco School Board Member and Filipino American Hydra Mendoza says that with the recent turmoil making headlines around the world events like these are important to strengthen and build the community.
“These are those moments where it’s really about gratitude and giving thanks and just thinking about families and the families that have been disrupted around the world,” said Mendoza. “I think we have to do a prayer for everyone and just find places where we can come together and be with family and really think about what it means to be grateful.”
The Rec and Park Department says as the turn out of the turkey cook-off continues to grow they hope to keep it free for everyone for years to come.