Last week we launched our #anovagivingnerd blog series, highlighting one member of our food nerd community giving back each month. But this month, there was too much goodness to post just once. 'Tis the season after all!
Today, I'm excited to share the story of the one, the only David LaForce. David is a lively, humorous, engaging family man. He cares deeply about doing his part to help others facing hunger in his local community. This Thanksgiving, David is cooking up change by sous vid'ing turkeys to raise funds to support his local food bank through his organization, Turkeys Against Hunger.
David started the organization alongside his family, friends and neighborhood squad. It was inspired by the idea that Thanksgiving is about more than giving thanks. It's about coming together as a community to support one another. It's about spreading hope and joy to others less fortunate. And, to David, its about using turkeys to fight hunger!
So without further delay, let's meet sous vide jedi and master of turkey, David LaForce.
Q&A with #anovagivingnerd DavidQ: David, it's so great to get to speak with you and learn about the impact you're making in your community. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
A: I'd love to! I'm a dynamic person, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. On weekends, to let off steam, I take part in full-contact origami. I once defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a small horde of ants using only a hoe and a large glass of water. Most importantly, critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear.
Joking aside, I live with my family in a very tight knit neighborhood. Over the years, we have grown close with our neighbors the Sterns and the Rogers. We do tons of different activities together and have even started our own beer brewery. We like to think that our mission is to provide happiness in liquid form! Our families have also bonded over our love of cooking. With most of our kids in middle or high school, it became difficult to find the time to cook together. The convenience of sous vide has made our lives that much easier. It's also created an unshakeable bond between us as we now often come together for meals.
As fun as these activities are, we wanted to do something more to give back to the community. Our love of creating and sharing made it a natural fit for us to work together to create something we are all proud of.
A: The idea behind Turkeys Against Hunger first formed when we were speaking with a friend. In 2014, he started an organization called Fry Out Cancer. The organization had a simple, fun and important mission. Each Thanksgiving, Fry Out Cancer would fry turkeys to support a local cancer center. To date, they have fried over 250 turkeys and raised over $50,000 for cancer-related charities. Donors are also encouraged to sponsor a turkey that will go to a family in need.
Our goal was to do something similar, but focused on a different cause. We wanted to focus our mission around hunger and food insecurity. And while we don't have experience in frying, we do sous vide very often. So we thought, why not combine our love of sous vide cooking with our passion to give back. And voila - Turkeys Against Hunger was born! This year, we will be sous vide'ing Turkeys to raise funds for the Northern Illinois Food Bank. They provide food and hope to more than half a million people each year. It's an honor to be able to work alongside them.
Q: What was Thanksgiving like for you growing up?
A: Thanksgiving has always been one of the biggest holidays in my family. When I was young, we used to have upwards of 50 people at our place every year. It was important for us to have friends and family come together to give thanks for all we had. But as I got older, I came to realize that Thanksgiving was about more than being thankful. It's a time to come together to help others in need. It's about our duty as human beings to give back, to create empathy and to celebrate our role as global citizens. It's a mentality my wife and I try to teach our three boys.
And so every Thanksgiving we do something to give back, and do it with a smile and open heart. In previous years, we have packed or delivered meals to those who are alone or can't travel. It opened our eyes as a family and motivated us to start something on our own. I see this new project as an exciting way to give back to our community and have a larger impact on a local level. I hope that we can play my small part in making sure that no one goes hungry in Northern Illinois.
A: This year has been a bit rushed as we only started the planning process about a month ago! Our plan is to do about 20 turkeys this year and expand to 100 turkeys next year. To manage the volume, our plan is to break down the turkey into breasts and leg quarters. For the breasts, we will debone them and split them into two roulades and stuff them with dried apricots, cranberries, fennel seed and sage. We will keep the leg quarters whole but seasoned as well. People who have donated to the Northern Illinois Food Bank will receive two roulades and two leg quarters from a 16 plus pound bird. Breaking down the turkey preparation this way makes it easier for us to sous vide en masse!
Q: Have there been any highlights or fun stories so far you can share with us??
The recipe development has been from scratch. This has meant that we have eaten more turkey in these last two weeks then we have in the last 5 years total! And that's a lotttt of turkey - we will likely be having beef wellington for Thanksgiving this year.
It's been so much fun to experiment with different flavor combinations and temperatures. You learn a lot by doing and this gave us the opportunity to do that together. Our friends and family have been so positive and supportive throughout the process. Everyone has told us that they always wanted to help but didn't know how. Now they have the chance!
Q: Do you have any advice for people who want to do something to give back this holiday season?
A: There is a company out there whose slogan is "Just Do It." I would have to say that is our advice. There may never be an optimal time to try to start something like this. But you just got to get out there and give back. Hunger and food insecurity exist everywhere. We encourage people to find out how they can help. If you don't have the time, donations make a huge difference. Being able to do anything goes a long way to helping those in need.
Thank you to the LaForces, Sterns and Rogers for sharing your story with us! You can find out more about Turkeys Against Hunger on their Facebook page or email them at [email protected].
We also want to highlight the issues that matter to you and encourage you to reach out to tell us your stories! Please email [email protected].
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
- Anastasia Plotnikova, CSR Manager