Chef Russell Szekely has Delicious Tips for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving has arrived and while it’s a time to share what we’re grateful for, it’s also time to eat. Before we sit down and write our Thanksgiving dinner grocery list, we talk to Vice President of Culinary, Chef Russell Szekely, about his favorite holiday recipe and his career with Canteen.

Russell joined Compass Group in June 2015, bringing with him over 25 years of culinary experience. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, his journey has taken him through fine dining restaurants, hotels, sports and entertainment venues, premium corporate dining and more. He has served Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth, three American Presidents as well as provided culinary leadership to the World Series, Super Bowl, MLB Baseball & NBA Basketball All-Star Games.


Now, at the helm of Canteen Dining, Russell leads a skilled and dedicated team who provide food service and catering solutions to various locations including universities, corporate offices, and other business facilities. Not only is food at the heart of what we do but so are our culinarians, management, and front-of-house associate. When asked to reflect on the success of the Canteen Dining program, Russell seemed in the Thanksgiving spirit, “It’s because of our great people. Without our people, the food would not be prepared and served with the care, knowledge, and pride that it is today.”


Being an aficionado of all things culinary, we asked Russell to share his favorite Thanksgiving traditions. He says, “I love this time of year as we thankfully reflect on the blessings in life and the lessons learned. I honor the traditional delicious dishes my mother made for us as kids by updating them a bit for the times and sharing them with my family and friends.”

So as you start digging through drawers for your recipes and writing out the ingredients on your grocery list, take this lesson from Russell. Thanksgiving dinner is important but it’s those you share with that matter the most.


Check out Russell’s recipe for Roast Turkey with Butternut Squash Pan Sauce below!

Roast Turkey with Butternut Squash Pan Sauce

A delicious turkey recipe for large crowds, perfect for the whole family.
Servings: 24 people
Calories: 240kcal
Author: Russell Szekely


  • 7 1/2 lb Turkey light meat, without skin, raw
  • 2 Tbs Garlic cloves, fresh, minced
  • 2 fl-oz Canola Oil
  • 1/2 cup Herb, basil, thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon Chopped
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Paste Unsalted, Canned
  • 1 fl-oz Cider Vinegar
  • 1 fl-oz Water
  • 4 fl-oz Canola Oil
  • 1/2 lb Large Yellow Onion fresh, whole
  • 1/4 lb Carrots fresh, large, peeled, cut crosswise to 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 lb Celery stalks 11"-12" long, fresh
  • 12 oz Butternut Squash cubed
  • 1 Tbs Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 cups Water


  • Trim the turkey breast as needed and arrange on a pan for seasoning.
  • Add the garlic to the canola oil and rub the turkey with the mixture, coating the entire surface. Sprinkle the turkey breasts on all sides with the fresh herbs. Keep cold until needed.
  • Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, cider vinegar, water and second listing of canola oil.
  • Cut all of the vegetables into 2-inch pieces and toss with the tomato paste mixture, then transfer all into the base of a roasting pan.
  • Arrange a roasting rack on top of the vegetables, then place the seasoned turkey breasts on top of the rack. Allow enough of the vegetables to be exposed to the oven heat for even browning.
  • Sprinkle the entire assembly with the salt & pepper.
  • Roast in your preheated oven until the turkey and vegetables are richly browned, approximately 20 minutes.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees, add the second listing of water to the base of the pan and continue roasting until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • Remove the turkey from the pan and allow it to rest. Place in service vessels and hold at 135 degrees internal temp until needed.
  • Transfer all of the vegetables and liquids to a high-speed blender and puree until VERY smooth, adjusting the consistency with water if necessary. Transfer this pan sauce to a serving vessel and keep hot.
  • Carve the turkey to order, serving a 5-ounce portion along with 2 ounces pan sauce.

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