“Home for the Holidays”: Norse Culinary Team cooks Thanksgiving food


“Home for the Holidays” poster. Photo courtesy of Luther College Dining Services.

For those who were too busy to spend hours in the kitchen or know that their potatoes were bound to be unbearably lumpy, Luther College’s Norse Culinary Team provided a solution. The team offered their annual service “Home for the Holidays” this year, which gave both Luther and surrounding Decorah community members the opportunity to purchase Thanksgiving treats and sides, all of which were prepared by Luther’s Dining Services staff.


Interested customers filled out an online form prior to Wednesday, November 16 in order to receive their food a week later on November 23 from the Dining Services Office. General Manager of Dining Services Wayne Tudor said the tradition was started ten years ago, with the hope of helping people in the Decorah community during the busy holiday season. 


“[The intention was] to help people out,” Tudor said. “A lot of people do not have time for their own baking and holiday preparations, so we just started offering it as a service.”


A crucial part of the process for keeping the operation running smoothly was the preparation and execution of the menu. Executive Chef Ryan Pederson was in charge of setting up the menu and helping to prepare the meals that the community got to enjoy. The menu remains constant every year, but there are some small additions from time to time. This year the menu consisted of bacon and sharp cheddar hash brown casserole, whipped butternut squash with bourbon butter-brown sugar glazed apples, creamy boursin whipped potatoes, green bean casserole, citrus cranberry relish with fresh ginger and bourbon and spice apple butter. 


Pederson noted that the food offered in “Home for the Holidays” has been served in the cafeteria and that the pies and pastries are also offered year-round through Luther’s catering service. With a familiar menu and reasonable pricing, the service saw between fifteen and twenty orders this year. 


“Prior to the pandemic, [the amount of orders] was bigger,” Tudor said. “We are just building back a little this year. I know there were a few years where we might have had fifty orders.” 


Like many other things, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed “Home for the Holidays”. The Norse Culinary Team is excited to offer these services to the community again and hopes that sales will go up in the following years. In the meantime, the team continues to give back to the community in the way they know best. 


“Let’s ramp [the program] back up,” Pederson said. “Bring it back to its popularity that it was and maybe add more.”


Evelyn Montoya (‘23) found out about “Home for the Holidays” through the Bulletin emails and the flyers posted around campus. She believes that this is a necessary service that is helpful for the community as a whole. 


“There are a lot of students who are not able to go home, so they find ways to have dinners with their friends or professors in the community,” Montoya said. “In our hall there are a couple of RA’s who are staying, so we are just going to bring together all the students and have a little dinner for an hour or two. None of them can or are able to cook, so they are ordering pizza and I was like, ‘Hey, I will bring the pie.’ [It’s] just a little something that says Thanksgiving.”


Organizers intend to bring “Home for the Holidays” back next November. Although the service is not offered for other holiday celebrations like Christmas, all parties involved agree that the program brings joy to the community.


“I think it is a great idea,” Montoya said. “It brings the community together and it brings Dining Services a little bit closer to students on campus.”