Two 25-pound turkeys and all the fixings keep Henk Kalkman busy in the kitchen at Buddys Nite Club every Christmas. “I always look for leftovers the next day and never can find them,” the operations manager laughs. “I’m always hoping there’s at least a bun and a chunk of turkey left for a sandwich, but I’ve never really lucked out on that.”
The nightclub opened in 1999 and has been dishing out free Christmas dinners since 2000 for people who might not have anywhere they feel welcome to go on Christmas Day.
“In the gay community, a lot of people have already been ostracized by their families and stuff like that, or there’s difficulties. It’s getting better over the years,” Kalkman says. “Or you’re just fed up with being with your family all day and you need to go see your other family; that’s what we call it. The gay community always seems to be that family-orientated type because you hang onto each other and you support each other. So it’s always attracted people that had nowhere to go, and it’s attracted friends, too, who at the beginning just came for the meal and have enjoyed it every year and they just keep coming and it’s become their tradition.”
Two years ago, Kalkman said it would be his last time cooking the dinner. All of his kitchen helpers couldn’t make it in and he was fed up and burnt out by the end of it. So Buddy’s chef Coco took it off his hands last year.
“Unfortunately, Coco was murdered this year, so that’s really changed our whole thought about the dinner,” Kalkman says. “So I’m going to cook it again this year joyously for Coco’s sake. I worked very closely with him. He loved to cook and loved to serve people. It’s going to be different this year.”
The dinner starts 6 pm on December 25. Kalkman says there’s always about 20 people who show up, but anyone is welcome. The bar will stay open all night for dancing and drinks.