Jake Toolan could only smile when he was asked what his mother’s thoughts would have been as he and his team helped prepare Christmas dinner for 400 people Dec. 24 at the Salvation Army on Chestnut Street.
“This is such a wonderful event,” said Toolan, executive chef at the Marriott Hotel, Peabody, who led a contingent of volunteers from the hotel. “My mother would be so happy knowing that we brought so many people together to enjoy a great meal and that we’re cooking from our hearts.”
The special holiday event was called “Mrs. Toolan’s Christmas: Food Is Love” in memory of Jake’s mother, Phyllis Toolan, who had a passion for cooking and loved hosting family dinners at her home on Franklin Avenue.
John Mitchell and Debbie Clayman spearheaded the organizational efforts that began several months ago after Jake approached them with an idea aimed to bring some joy to local residents at Christmastime.
“John Toolan, a Chelsea son, decided to put together a dinner on Christmas eve in his hometown of Chelsea in remembrance of his mother, Phyllis,” summarized Mitchell.
The response from the outset was overwhelming, according to Mitchell, who noted some of the many generous sponsors of the dinner, including East Boston Savings Bank, Atlantic Toyota, the Monkiewicz Family of Kayem Foods, and the Bertolami Family of JB Sash and Door.
Looking out at the many food stations, Mitchell recognized Tony Tiro Jr., his wife, Lisa DiBerto Tiro, and their daughter, Gianna Tiro, who helped serve the food and greet the many guests.
“The Tiro family is here – as you know “Chubby” Tiro was a football coach at Chelsea High for years and Tony and Lisa and the Tiro family are sponsors honoring his memory,” noted Mitchell.
“And this wouldn’t have been possible without Debbie Clayman, whose husband was Richie Clayman, a very well-thought of son of Chelsea,” said Mitchell.
Clayman, carrying on the philanthrophy of her late husband, walked throughout the large hall making sure that the guests were having a great time and enjoying the delicious turkey, roast beef, and ham and all the accompanying sides and desserts.
Mitchell said he was so impressed by Jake Toolan’s culinary talents and work ethic and his desire to pay tribute to Mrs. Toolan in a special way.
“Jake is doing something for his mother and we all got behind him to help our city,” said Mitchell. “It doesn’t matter where you live, you still have Chelsea roots and most Chelseans will never forget where they came from.”