Restaurant News & Reviews

Feast Q&A: Jason Poole, of Sacramento’s Hyatt Regency, on serving Thanksgiving

Hyatt Regency executive chef Jason Poole and his crew will cook 16 25-pound turkeys and 20 standing rib roasts as part of the hotel’s Thanksgiving meal.
Hyatt Regency executive chef Jason Poole and his crew will cook 16 25-pound turkeys and 20 standing rib roasts as part of the hotel’s Thanksgiving meal. Hyatt Regency

After weeks of shopping and planning, and days of preparation and cooking, hundreds of thousands of Sacramento-area home cooks will serve Thanksgiving dinner to their families and friends on Thursday.

However, there’s a whole population of diners who prefer not to deal with the stress and mess. Instead, they choose to take the holiday meal at restaurants.

One such holiday-dinner destination is the 26-year-old Hyatt Regency, where executive chef Jason Poole and his staff are planning on a few people dropping by for a meal. Poole was one of the major coordinators of the Tower Bridge Gala Dinner, the culmination of Farm-to-Fork Celebration in September.

The Hyatt’s usual brunch menu has been expanded for Thanksgiving to 70-plus items to be served at eight stations at Dawson’s, Vines and Amourath lounge. The price is $55 general, $28 children ages 5 to 12, free for 5 and younger. Seatings will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at 1209 L St. Reservations: (916) 443-1234 or www.sacramento.hyatt.com.

We caught up with Poole on Monday.

What’s on the menu?

You name it. It’s a full-on buffet brunch. We’ll have a breakfast section, with waffles, omelets, Benedicts and breakfast meats. At the carvery, we’ll have ham, prime rib and turkey, of course, and all the side dishes that come with it. We’ll also have two seafood displays.

How many turkeys will you cook?

We’re planning on 16 whole turkeys, and they’re 25-pounders. The legs and thighs are difficult to carve, so we’ll debone them and make dark-meat roulades. But I’ve got to save some of the drumsticks for the kids, they like them. We’ll also cook 20 prime (standing rib roasts).

What about mashed potatoes?

About 200 pounds of potatoes and 12 gallons of gravy. Root vegetables are part of the Thanksgiving meal, so we’ll have 50 pounds of turnips, 50 pounds of rutabagas and 50 pounds of parsnips.

What’s for dessert?

We’ll make about 3,000 miniature desserts, about an inch and a half (in size), one little bite. It’s a much cleaner presentation than people taking big slices of pumpkin pie.

What does the crowd look like?

We have about 600 right now, but we hope to be up to 900 by Thanksgiving. The morning is packed full, but we’re still trying to fill in the late spot, the 2 to 4 (p.m.) seatings.

What percentage of diners will be hotel guests?

None, (the crowd) is all locals.

Why aren’t they at home?

It’s really a lot of work to cook a turkey. (Also) everyone has such stressful lives that (dining out) is convenient and easier for families to get together. … Usually they come in big family gatherings of 10 to 20 people. There aren’t many tables for two.

What will you do with the leftovers?

I’ve got this down to a science, so there will be no leftovers. We’ll also feed the fire department in the morning, and we have turkey dinners in our employee dining room for the hotel staff of about 200 people.

Do you feel the pressure?

There is no pressure. I have a dedicated staff, and we all know what needs to be done.

When will you eat?

You’ll see me in a corner, shoving down a piece of turkey and then running.

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

JASON POOLE

The Hyatt Regency executive chef is ready for Thanksgiving dinner.

Before taking the helm at the Hyatt, Poole worked at locations for the national hotel and resort chain, including those in Carlsbad, and Washington D.C. and at notable restaurants around the country.

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