DC restaurant will fry your turkey for free again this year

Mark Bucher stands before a row of deep fryers before the annual free turkey fry begins. (Courtesy Medium Rare)

D.C. restaurateur Mark Bucher, who has been at the forefront of helping address food needs during the pandemic, is holding his annual turkey fry for anyone who wants a bird done that way — and it’s free.

The deep-fried turkeys will once again be done at Medium Rare restaurant’s Cleveland Park location on Thanksgiving Day, starting at 11 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Bucher says his team aims to fry over a half ton of birds in their eight deep fryers this year.

The team will be able to fry up to 24 turkeys an hour. The free fry runs through 3 p.m.

turkeys ready to be fried
Medium Rare is able to fry up to 24 turkeys an hour. (Courtesy Medium Rare)

Last year, Bucher moved his free turkey fry to D.C.’s Navy Yard, outside of Nationals Park, for social distancing reasons.

Bucher started the no-charge turkey fry in 2008. He and his team fried 1,200 turkeys last year, and while he says he’s not sure exactly how many have gone through the fryers since 2008, he thinks that number is well in the thousands.

“What started out as a small thing — having my friends get a deep-fried turkey without injuring themselves or burning their houses down — turned into a D.C. tradition,” Bucher said. “With the partnership of Feed the Fridge, we continue to use this as an opportunity for safe turkey frying, but we also are able to provide turkeys to those who wouldn’t have one, or fry donated turkeys for people who do not have ovens or materials to cook Thanksgiving dinner with.”

While it is free, people who bring their bird to be fried are encouraged to donate up to $25 to Bucher’s Feed the Fridge initiative, which stocks refrigerators with free meals across the D.C. region to help those facing hunger.

The turkeys take about 30 minutes to deep-fry.

It takes a half hour to deep-fry a turkey. (Courtesy Medium Rare)

Bucher started distributing free meals at the onset of the pandemic last year to D.C. residents who were food challenged, and his efforts eventually morphed into Feed the Fridge. To date, the initiative has distributed more than 300,000 free meals with a goal of 500,000 by the end of 2021.

Bucher was recognized for his efforts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in October with its Community Support and Leadership Award.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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