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Some rely on the pros to make Thanksgiving dinner
Publix Super Market bakery manager Heather Nesfeder prepares to slice freshly baked bread inside the store’s bakery on Thompson Bridge Road Tuesday afternoon.

Thanksgiving Day is finally here and for many folks that's means one thing - a big, home-cooked meal.

Before the guests arrive, and probably before the sun came up, many cooks found themselves in the kitchen where they will spend countless hours preparing their feast of plenty.

But instead of sweating away in their own kitchens, a number of residents chose to keep their own labor to a minimum by leaving the food preparations to the experts - like Heather Nesfeder.

"(Tuesday) we started baking at 3 a.m. and (Wednesday) we had someone come in at midnight. We had to get an early start to keep up with the extra holiday demand, plus do our usual baking," said Nesfeder, bakery manager of Publix Super Marketon Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville.

"We're making more of everything - especially dinner rolls and pies."

Desserts are a popular leave-it-to-the-experts type of thing for many Thanksgiving chefs. A year ago, bakers at Truelove Celebrations in Gainesville started taking orders for today.

"We have people that order from us year after year, and they know if they don't order a cake in advance, they won't be able to get one," said owner Peggy Truelove.

"Even if they don't know what flavor they want, we write down how many they want."

This time of year, the best sellers are red velvet and key-lime, Truelove said.

With so much interest, the bakery had to cut off its holiday pre-orders in September.

"We had 168 cakes to bake - not including cupcakes," Truelove said.

"We've been doing (holiday pre-orders) for five years and it's like that every holiday. We're very blessed."

Despite high volume, customers can rest assured their baked goods are just as fresh, as if they made it themselves.

"We don't freeze our cakes," Truelove said. "They are cooked fresh and iced that day."

Although Truelove has a long history of doing the Thanksgiving dinner legwork for its customers, Wild Wing Cafe took its first foray into the holiday cooking arena this year.

The Gainesville establishment decided to offer Thanksgiving dinners to go.

"We decided to give it a try due to customer requests," said co-owner Trisha Hall.

Instead of frying its own turkeys - which is infamous for starting many holiday fires - Wild Wing customers were able to turn to Hall and her staff for assistance. Although frying poultry isn't that unusual for the restaurant, some of the offered sides were a bit off the restaurant's beaten path.

"We wanted to add some of the more traditional sides that people expect on Thanksgiving. Things like corn bread dressing and candied yams," Hall said. "Everything is made from scratch. It's just like homemade."

Since the restaurant is closed today, orders had to be picked up in advance, but Wild Wing staff took extra care to make sure no cook would come up short-changed on the feasting holiday.

"Everything was packaged to be stored overnight," Hall said.

"And we included re-heating instructions to make sure that everything turned out just right."