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“This is for everybody:” Salvation Army to host annual Christmas Feast in honor of late chef Gus Kelly

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MILWAUKEE -- A well-known Milwaukee chef died in September, after a four-year battle with cancer. Gus Kelly was the lead chef at the Salvation Army Christmas Feast, and while the event will go on, Gus' legacy can be seen and tasted throughout the meal.salvation-army

2,400 pounds of turkey, 1,900 pounds of ham, 80 cases of yams and vegetables, 175 gallons of gravy and over 2,000 pounds of cornbread stuffing -- all cooked up for 8,000 people by lead chef, Bob Ilk.

"Preparation is so key! Organization and preparation is number one. Whether I cook at home or anything, it's the plan; organizing and the prep," said Bob.

Bob took over the Salvation Army Christmas Family Feast after former executive chef, Gus Kelly, passed away.

Gus Kelly

Gus Kelly

"We were together for 46 years, spent a lot of time with our families, so yeah, it was tough," said Bob.

While Gus is missed, he's not gone. Bob says this Christmas meal is in honor of him.

Bob Ilk

Bob Ilk

"I think so. After working together as long as we did, teaching together, there's not too much different in our food," Bob said.

The food was received on Monday, prepared on Wednesday, and the cooking began Thursday -- Saturday, last-minute touches.

"We're right on schedule," said Bob.salvation-army5

1,400 volunteers make it happen.

"The volunteers are fantastic. If you didn't have the outreach and the outpour of the people of Milwaukee, this would not have happened," said Bob.

The Christmas Feast begins at 11:00 a.m., and they serve food until 2:30 p.m. -- all are welcomesalvation-army3

"This is not just for the needy or the homeless, this is for everybody. Come and fellowship and have a good time and eat a great meal," said Don Rosette, Project Coordinator for the Salvation Army Christmas Family Feast.

The children will get to visit with Santa and go home with gifts after having their fill on the traditional Christmas meal.salvation-army4

"It's a good place to fellowship, come and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ," said Rosette.

May your family have a very merry Christmas!

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