Great Barrington chef cooks Thanksgiving dinner at Standing Rock

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GREAT BARRINGTON - What Jeremy Stanton and his catering crew have in mind is Thanksgiving dinner for 500.

Stanton, owner of the Meat Market, the Camp Fire Grill and Fire Roasted Catering in Great Barrington, will be spending the holiday cooking for protesters on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

Cooking for 500 people is nothing extraordinary for Stanton and his veteran crew, but the logistics of transporting his equipment and setting it up on the wild prairie of North Dakota will be a new experience.

"We are on the Plains!" he said with a laugh. "We are out in the open. My hope is that [Thursday] is a warm day and without a lot of wind, But it doesn't really matter. we'll get it done."

Members of the tribe and protesters from around the country have been encamped at the site for months to oppose the 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline being built to carry oil from western North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois because they say it threatens drinking water on their nearby reservation and cultural sites, according to the Associated Press. Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners has said no sites have been disturbed and that the $3.8 billion pipeline will be safe.

Stanton and his crew of five will be helped by local volunteers. They will be using food and ingredients donated from local farmers.

He and his crew drove 17 hours from Great Barrington a few days ago with the necessary equipment.

"They left in two trucks," said Scott Lefcheck, general manager of all three of Stanton's companies. The first wave left last Saturday, while Stanton left on Monday morning.

The plan is to roast 30 turkeys over several grills. The turkeys are spitted five to a stick. In addition, there will be potatoes, wild rice, squash and cranberries.

Stanton was approached by activist Judy Wicks, who also is the former owner of the Black Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, who initially approached another chef, who referred her to Stanton.

"I was very flattered," he said. "I thought it was an amazing opportunity. These people are hurting. It's about taking a stand. It's about helping your fellow human beings."

For Lefcheck, it was more about sustainability and keeping a community water supply fresh.

"Water is such a huge factor in everyone's life," he said. "It's so important to be supportive of something like that.

"There is an opportunity," Stanton said. "For us to say, 'We can't allow corporate interests to dictate our lives. We can't allow fellow humans to go through all this. And it's not just us. Everybody needs to take a stand.' "

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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