Three Faculty Chefs + 60 Student Chefs in Four Classes = Magnificent Thanksgiving Meal Prepared for Kids at St. PJ’s

November 27, 2018

Public Information Officer


One student chef’s grandfather and grand aunt are both St. PJ’s alumni

Led by three St. Philip’s College faculty members who are also alumni, students at the college gave back by preparing a Thanksgiving feast for formerly abused, neglected, abandoned and homeless children on the campus of St. Peter-St. Joseph Children's Home at 919 Mission Road.

Faculty Chef Patrick Costello and his RSTO 2405 and CHEF 1301 classes joined faculty Chef Frank Salinas with his CHEF 1301 class and faculty Chef Patrick Brown with his CHEF 1300 class. All three chef faculty members for the 2018 project are each outstanding alumni of St. Philip's College, and Costello told one reporter his service history with the 17-year-old project is at least 14 years old, dating to his student experience with the college.

Since 2001, led by chef faculty members, entire classes of St. Philip's College students have prepared the Thanksgiving meal for both children residing at the home and direct care staff. Working in shifts of 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. on Nov. 21 this year, St. Philip's College students prepared the meals on site with ingredients purchased by St. PJ’s (100-plus pounds of whole turkeys, 40 pounds of stuffing, 30 pounds of cranberry Jell-O, 40 pounds of mashed potatoes, three gallons of gravy, 27 pounds of green beans, 15 pumpkin pies and 15 pecan pies). Traditionally, a few of the students also give back by volunteering to serve the meals the following day (Nov. 21) in the property's Chapel-dining hall, before leaving discreetly as the feast began. The sacrifice of the students giving back is significant, as students in the project forego outstanding Thanksgiving season wages in their jobs with leading San Antonio restaurants and hotels in order to support the event.

Anthony Delgado is the proud parent of St. Philip’s College culinary arts student and 2018 SPC St. PJ’s Project member Evan Delgado. The success of the project was significant to one Delgado family member on several levels.

Proud of my son Evan who is one of the culinary students that prepared the meals for St PJ's. Life comes in full circle. His grandfather and grand aunt were once residents of St PJ’s,” Delgado posted to the home’s Facebook page on Nov. 23.

A few days later, the St. PJ’s team took to its Facebook page to praise the project.

Many thanks to St Philips Culinary Institute who prepared a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner for serving our children for about 20 years now! We appreciate your dedication to making the day special for our kids!" the team posted Nov. 26.

The students also provide technical services on their annual visits, breaking down the kitchen and detailing each piece of equipment to make sure that each piece is immaculately clean and in excellent working order.

Roman Garcia is a first-year 2018 St. PJ’s Project student team member with many years of industry experience. 

"It helps us to be passionate about what we're doing," Garcia told a reporter. "We're willing to be here to do what we can to provide a beautiful and wonderful meal," he said.

Costello’s conversation with the same reporter was also reported in a recent story on the project.

"These kids they come from abuse, neglect. Some of these kids have traveled from Central and South America and go days without food, and when they come through, we feed them lunch; we feed them dinner," said Patrick Costello, chef instructor at St. Philip's. "They didn't know when their next meal was going to come. So when you're doing that, you forget how good you really have it."

Costello turned away briefly to wipe away some tears.

"I didn't mean to get emotional," he said.

Yet every year, it gets to him. It's the reason he keeps going back.

"When you're done cooking and you see those kids, see how excited they are and they come back and ask for seconds, it's great," Costello said. 

Faculty Chef Rey Valdez and his class joined Chefs Costello, Brown, and Salinas in leadership of the 2017 edition of the SPC St. PJ’s Project.

With the words, “This experience is totally amazing, what way to truly be thankful!!!,” St. Philip’s College student Daytwone Campbell documented the 2017 project at the home’s Facebook site. 

See and like Campbell's 2017 Facebook post at Read the Nov. 21 KSAT story Culinary students cook Thanksgiving dinner for abused, neglected children in shelter - 120 children of all ages getting special meal while in emergency shelterby VJ and reporter Courtney Friedman. (Images courtesy St. Peter-St. Joseph Children's Home on Facebook)

About the St. Philip’s College Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts department: The St. Philip’s College Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts department provides five primary programs along with one full-time faculty member and multiple adjunct faculty members to work directly with students in each area. All five programs involve students in classroom-based learning experiences, as well as lab experience, and work-based learning during a practicum course. The culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and restaurant management programs have been acknowledged with an Exemplary rating from the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission. St. Philip’s College is one of only 25 schools worldwide with the commission’s Exemplary status and is rated Exemplary by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The 110-year-old St. Philip’s College hospitality professions programs typically graduate 100 students annually, and expansion is expected this decade when the college opens its $30 million Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center of Excellence building funded as part of a $450 million bond package approved by voters in May 2017 to both construct new Alamo College District facilities and renovate existing college buildings. Students graduating from the management programs: Hotel Management, Hospitality Management, and Restaurant Management are eligible to receive Certified Hospitality Graduate (CHG) certifications from the Accrediting Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration™. Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts students are eligible for Certification by the American Culinary Federation. The CHG is an industry-recognized professional certification that has been granted to only three hospitality programs in the state of Texas and only one program in the college’s service area. For information on registration in the college’s program, contact the department staff at 210-486-2315 or book reservations with the staff of the college’s student-operated restaurant by calling 210-486-2328.

About St. PJ’s Children’s Home: St. Peter-St. Joseph Children's Home, known as St. PJ's, was established in 1869 by Three Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and has a mission to serve the needs of children and families by providing a safe, nurturing community to heal body, mind and spirit, shape successful adults, and break the cycle of abuse and neglect. Services include 24/7 emergency shelter, foster and adoption, counseling, and community housing assistance. More information about St. PJ's can be found at