Local chef prepares 7,500 meals overnight for those in need

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DENVER, Co — Thanksgiving for thousands of people in the Denver-Metro will be a little brighter thanks to the work of several organizations preparing meals for those in need, including a local chef and volunteers in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood.

Restaurants at Avanti’s Food and Beverage graciously allowed chef Tajahi Cooke, the owner of Ms. Betty’s Cooking, and a group of volunteers to use their space overnight to prepare more than 7,500 Thanksgiving meals Thursday.

“We’ve cooked up over 2,000 pounds of chicken … we have over 1,000 pounds of turkey and over 1,000 pounds pork shoulder,” Cooke said.

Cooke was recognized as a Denver7 Everyday Hero in 2020, when he helped prepare more than 500 Thanksgiving meals.

This year, Cooke says the stakes are higher.

“The need grew. So we addressed that even more,” Cooke said. We’re going to push out over 7500 meals together.”

About 5,000 meals will be delivered to Mean Street Worship Center in Aurora.

The other 2,500 will be distributed to various organizations, including the Salvation Army.

Local chef and volunteers work tirelessly overnight to prepare 7,500 Thanksgiving meals for those in need

“I was once that kid in the middle of a hurricane in Jamaica. The house got damaged, water was coming in. Next thing you know, the Salvation Army is walking down the street, handing out bags of rice, bags of flour and that brought relief. That actually brought us back to being a family in some way,” Cooke said.

Years later, Cooke was living out of his car as a teenager.

It’s these experiences that inspired him to serve people in need in the Denver-metro.

“It’s hard not to think about your fellow man when your fellow man is hurting,” Cooke said.

In a year that saw another increase in Denver’s homeless population, efforts like these go a long way, at least on Thanksgiving.