While those of us responsible for this year’s family feast are stressing out over the bird that will define us as worthy cooks by those whose judgment we fear most, one Oklahoma City couple is taking on that Thanksgiving eve panic and multiplying it by at least 80. Claude and Lindy Rappaport are the owners of Culinary Kitchen, 7302 N Western, and today they are using the high-tech, high-end, Jetsons-worthy ovens they sell to prepare between 80 and 100 turkeys for local shelters. To pull off this kind of feat, it takes teamwork. And the Rappaports know a little about that thanks to 35 years of marriage and raising three daughters. "As in any organization, teamwork is essential,” Claude Rappaport said. "To produce world-class food at breakneck speeds will require extraordinary effort that can only be accomplished by all having one purpose and pulling together to reach that goal.” Rappaport wasn’t satisfied just providing turkey. Those who pull up to a table at the downtown City Rescue Mission and Food and Shelter for Friends in Norman will be served as guests rather than walk through a line with a tray. They will enjoy a meal provided by the best chefs in the city. Rococo Restaurant and Fine Wine will make the sweet potatoes, The Coach House will prepare traditional dressing, Bolero Spanish Grill and Tapas Bar will provide mashed potatoes, The Deep Fork Grill will be responsible for cranberry relish, The Paseo Grill is making green bean casserole and The Wedge Pizzeria will provide bread. Each table has a sponsor providing dessert. Bill Kamp’s Meat Market is contributing turkeys. Pulling the team together wasn’t a stretch for Rappaport, who worked for years in the automotive industry. Besides the family-run Culinary Kitchen, Lindy Rappaport and their three daughters, Lori, Stacy and Amy, also run Designer Rugs and Import Group, 333 W Wilshire Blvd. The idea for this project came from the space-age ovens Rappaport demonstrates each Saturday by cooking a turkey. While that sounds like quite a chore, it isn’t. The store’s TurboChef ovens can cook a bird to perfection in less than an hour. The ovens significantly reduce cooking times by combining microwave, convection and air impingement technologies. Hot air is constantly flowed over the target, cooking it significantly faster and more efficiently. The ovens are outfitted with microprocessors so cooking a bird is just a couple of button-pushes from completion. As Thanksgiving approached last year, he checked with City Mission to see about donating some turkey, only to find donated birds were typically cooked, carved and frozen well in advance. Serving a succulent bird is problematic enough without freezing and thawing. So, enlisting the help of friend and local representative for Putnam Wines, Clayton Bahr, who happens to be a vegetarian, they prepared 60 birds the day before Thanksgiving last year. Completely sleep-deprived, Rappaport ended up missing his own Thanksgiving dinner. "It was really worth it,” the native New Yorker said. "It makes you feel good, a thing like this.” The proof is in his determination to repeat last year’s feat and top it. They’ve enlisted the help of friends with a surgical background to carve the birds. "We want these done right,” he said, pounding an open hand on the marble tabletop in his store. "Everybody deserves a nice holiday meal, I don’t care who you are.”
Online→Watch for video this afternoon from today’s turkey project at The Culinary Kitchen, online at NewsOK.com. →All of Sherrel Jones’ Thanksgiving 101 videos and recipes can be found online at NewsOK. com/life/food. →Watch the Food Dude prepare the ultimate Thanksgiving sandwich trying out the Food Network’s new 4-in-1 indoor grill and griddle and read about the experience on the Food Dude blog at blog.newsok.com/fooddude.
Your turnDo you know a couple that epitomize teamwork? For a chance to share their story, type an essay (maximum of 250 words) that tells us why they exhibit one or more qualities of teamwork, commitment, fun or staying together in sickness and in health. Share it at NewsOK.com/inspiringcouples. Deadline to enter is Tuesday. A maximum of 12 couples will be chosen and featured in promotion of the "Forever. For Real” project and the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative.