The Pitt Football Chefs: Celebrating Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh and Beyond

When all 14 of Pitt’s linebackers crowd into Ryan Manalac’s house after practice Thursday afternoon, it won’t be about watching a movie. It will be eaten.

According to SirVocea, Dennis, Bangally Kamara and Solomon DeShields will do much of the cooking. It’s actually going to be a cook-off, with Manalac and his wife Carly doing the rest of the cooking.

“I’ve eaten both of their kitchens and it’s pretty good, it’s just whoever comes out on top that day has the crown,” Dennis said Tuesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

It’s Thanksgiving and food is king – after a morning exercise, of course. No Pitt football player will be sitting alone in his dorm room on Thursday afternoon, as either position coaches or teammates will be throwing Thanksgiving celebrations.

The Linebacking Corps will be together at Manalac’s house, but a unit like the Offensive Line will be spread out across the area. And not just because there isn’t enough food to feed the 19 men in the room.

“We all go to different places,” Matt Goncalves said Tuesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “I know I go to Blake Zubovic, I go there every year. Different guys – Marcus (Minor) might go home or something, Jake (Kradel) will go home, everyone has their place.”

For example, Minor accepted an invitation to spend the day with Terrence Enos’ family in Michigan.

The line of defense isn’t going to Charlie Partridge’s house, which could be a good thing considering the 21-strong unit, according to Partridge, basically got Pitt into the soup kitchen for a bit over the summer.

“Devin’s (Danielson’s) mom actually rents out an apartment, so she took the first few dibs, and I think a lot of guys are going to go there,” Partridge said Tuesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “But we have enough locals where they go home, the option is there.”

And while the Kamara-DeShields cook-off drew some attention, and Deslin Alexandre admitted he had to watch it, it seems most of Cook Thursday will be simply enjoyed by Pitt football. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any chefs on the list.

Minor sees himself as a chef and there is one meal he enjoys cooking the most.

“My favorite dish is baked chicken wings,” Minor said Tuesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “I always use different types of spices, but I think my favorite is Honey Old Bay.”

Goncalves acknowledged Minor’s cooking skills and added Owen Drexel’s name when it comes to offensive linemen. If one of them made a good stuffing, Goncalves’ favorite Thanksgiving side dish, he’d be there too.

When it comes to the defensive side of football, Alexandre considers himself a chef and last year he had a bit of inspiration.

“Nate (Temple) was my roommate last year, and we had some good fights, so Nate is a good cook,” Alexandre said Tuesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “There really were more battles on the grill, but Nate Temple, he’s a good cook.”

Thursday will be a very, very, very good day to eat – especially after a morning of hard work – but it won’t last long. A flight to Miami is imminent ahead of Saturday night’s season finale.

And with a victory over Miami that would be Miami’s first since 2014, Pitt Football would be very grateful.


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