Thanksgiving in America: An Interns Guide from CareerDean

During your culinary and hospitality internship in America, youll experience a wealth of holidays centered around food. Whether its chocolates and specialty desserts at Valentines Day or special brunch services for Easter and Mothers Day, youll learn how to prepare and serve a host of foods for every event. The most popular food-focused holiday, however, is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in America is a major event that keeps chefs and hospitality associates incredibly busy for nearly the entire month of November. If your intern training is to include preparing meals and table service for Thanksgiving, its important to know what foods are served and why your guests want them.

What is Thanksgiving in America?

Thanksgiving in America occurs on the fourth Thursday of November each year.  Its origins date back to 1621 when American settlers known as Pilgrims showed their appreciation to the Native Americans in the form of a large meal. The original meal consisted of foods such as seal, dear, and lobster as well as farmed crops such as corn and native spices. The traditional meal of thanksgiving carried on throughout separate northern colonies for more than 200 years.

But in 1863, at the height of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln asked Americans to commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife and to heal the wounds of the nation. He scheduled Thanksgiving Day to be held on the fourth Thursday in November­a tradition that still holds today all across America.

What foods are served at Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving in America consists of many dishes made from seasonal fruits and vegetables such as corn, green beans, carrots, cranberries, and sweet potatoes. While each region of America has its own special dish served on Thanksgiving, there are a few dishes that are consistent across the nation.


Turkey is a staple Thanksgiving dish. Most households bake turkeys covered in butter and spices while others deep fry their turkeys in special frying pots. No matter which method of preparation is used, turkeys are usually left whole and carved at the family table.

The same cannot be said if Thanksgiving dinner is being served at a hotel or country club. Generally, the baked turkey is carved and separated before serving.  


Theres not a grandmother in America who serves Thanksgiving dinner without some sort of stuffing (or dressing in some parts of the country). Stuffing can be made with dried bread or cornbread with an array of vegetables and spices. Traditionally, the bread/vegetable mixture is stuffed into the turkey and keeps the turkey moist as it bakes. Not many commercial operations use this method for baking their stuffing. Dont worry about this detail. Most guests will simply appreciate the iconic dish and not be bothered with how it was prepared.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is found on many tables during Thanksgiving. The traditional dish is made by cooking cranberries in a simple syrup and adding spices such as allspice or nutmeg. The dish offers a bit of tarty flavour to the entire Thanksgiving meal which many diners enjoy.

Other traditional dishes

Green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, glazed carrots, and mashed potatoes are among the most popular side dishes served at Thanksgiving. Aside from these, youll find ample amounts of bread and rolls as well as desserts served. One dessert that is a staple in almost every house is pumpkin pie. During your internship, make a point to try a slice of this iconic Thanksgiving tradition.  

Are you prepared for Thanksgiving in America?

While nothing can quite prepare you for the physical work involved with a major American holiday, knowing what is served and why can be helpful when interacting with guests. The knowledge will help you anticipate what they want and serve them accordingly.

Dont get so involved with creating the perfect meal for your guests that you forget to enjoy yourself. Gather together with your co-workers and other interns to experience Thanksgiving in America for yourself.

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