Drew Roots and other volunteers serve Christmas meals at the 2011 WabiSabi Community Christmas dinner. [Photo Courtesy of WabiSabi

There is no reason to have to cook or dine alone on Christmas day.

WabiSabi and Red Cliffs Lodge are offering a free community Christmas dinner 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25 at the Grand Center.

Or, if an elegant meal prepared by a chef at a resort is to your liking, Sorrel River Ranch has a family-style Christmas feast prepared.

This is the seventh year WabiSabi has offered its Hands Up Christmas dinner. Last year 450 meals were served. WabiSabi also provides an annual Thanksgiving community dinner as well.

The dinner is made possible by generous donations from the community. Over 100 volunteers cook, serve, clean, decorate and coordinate the meal. Red Cliffs Lodge is preparing a full Christmas dinner. The Grand Center contributes their facilities for serving and dining.

“We live in such a generous and supportive community and it’s great to harness that good energy and share it with everyone,” said Holly Dinsmore, WabiSabi’s Warehouse Manager and organizer of the Hands Up community meals. “This is a tough time for everyone, and whatever we can do to help people out, we want to do it.”

Dinsmore said a broad cross-section of the community attends the Hands Up meals each year, from schoolteachers and business owners, to the unemployed and homeless.

And while all appreciate the free meal, it’s more about building the bonds of community than helping people through lean economic times.

“There are tons of people in this town that have no family to spend the holidays with,” Dinsmore said. “Also, this is the off-season. People are getting laid off, and money is a real issue.”

As always, generous community involvement is vital to the success of the community dinners. This year Red Cliffs Lodge will prepare the Christmas meal.

“We’ve had a great year and we want to give back, “said Charley Every, chef at Red Cliffs Lodge.

WabiSabi is now seeking volunteers to help with meal setup, serving and cleanup.

“It’s amazing to see how many people jump in and help out with these meals,” said Dinsmore. “We are so fortunate to live in a community where everyone wants to get involved and help one another out. It’s truly an expression of the holiday spirit.”

For those who prefer to celebrate the season with a luxurious meal, a drive up State Route 128 may be answer. Richard Potts is cooking a Christmas feast. He won’t be using any of your mother’s traditional recipes.

Potts is the new executive chef at Sorrel River Ranch, 17 miles north of Moab on State Route 128. The hotel and spa’s restaurant is providing a family-style Christmas dinner with a luxurious menu.

You can choose a salad of winter greens and smoked duck or winter squash bisque for the first course. For the main course one can choose a roast prime rib or ham with bourbon and molasses glaze, both accompanied by bread pudding, roasted root vegetables with rosemary and lavender, plus aged cheddar infused mashed potatoes.

Potts’ focus has been “farm-to-plate” and has worked with local producers within a 500-mile radius of the ranch. His approach to cooking with fresh foods comes from a legacy handed down by his father and grandfather, who were both chefs and organic farmers. During the summer season, 70 percent of the produce was grown on-site in the ranch’s two-acre garden.

“We’re still harvesting,” said Keith Battaglia, director of marketing at the ranch. “The greens are from the greenhouse. The squash and root vegetables were recently harvested.”

The final course of the Christmas meal is a sourdough beignet or chocolate ganache.

You don’t have to stay overnight at the hotel to enjoy the meal.

“You never have to be a guest,” Battaglia said. “Sorrel River Ranch is open to the public. It always is.”

However, he said, if you want more than just dinner, winter season rates are now in effect.

“If you really want to do it up, call 24 hours in advance to get a massage. Go to the steam room and sauna. Go to the bar and have a Hot Delight. Then have dinner and spend the night here,” Battaligia said. “And then wait for Santa Claus or room service to come to your room.”

The Hot Delight is one of Sorrel’s seasonal drinks.

It is a hot chocolate with a kick of vanilla rum, topped with whipped cream and garnished with crumble candy cane. Their other hot drink for the winter season is the Café’ Rumba, which is a fresh brewed coffee with a highlight of Bacardi 151, topped with whipped cream and dusted cinnamon.

The ranch is also featuring two cold drinks for the season: The peppermint martini and the 12.12.12 which is made with Macallan 12 Scotch, drambuie, Slideridge honey, sweet and sour, and garnished with both a cherry and an orange.

“You can enjoy the 12.12.12 anytime,” Battaglia said.

If you go:

Community Christmas Dinner

When: 2 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 25

Where: Grand Center, 182 N. 500 West

Cost: Free

WabiSabi is now seeking volunteers to help with meal setup, serving and cleanup.

To volunteer, call Mandy Turner at 259-2553 or email programs@wabisabimoab.org. WabiSabi is unable to accept food donations from individuals. Everything served must be prepared in a commercial kitchen. However, financial contributions to the event may be mailed to WabiSabi, 1030 S. Bowling Alley Lane, Moab, UT 84532.


Family Style Christmas Dinner

Where: Sorrel River Ranch, Milemarker 17 State Route 128

When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Dec. 25

Cost: $59 per person; $29 for children