Christmas feast on grand scale

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An army of cooks, food-handlers, servers and hosts are gearing up to bring a family-style Christmas to Dunedin – on a grand scale.

Led by chef Geoff Stewart, about 60 volunteers will spend up to three days in the kitchens at Forsyth Barr Stadium and at the Dunedin Town Hall, preparing a Christmas feast with all the trimmings.

They will be joined on Christmas Day by dozens of volunteer servers and table hosts, along with about 500 guests, for the giant annual Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner at the Dunedin Town Hall.

Hosted by Dunedin’s Acts of Kindness Charitable Trust, the event aims to make Christmas special for people who may be alone or in need at this time of year.

The free event will run from 11.30am to 2.30pm on Christmas Day.

Trustees Grant and Ann Hardy, and John Watson, took over managing the event from founders Dave and Jean Brown several years ago, and this will be the fourth time it is held at the Dunedin Town Hall.

“It’s fantastic for us to be able to have Christmas dinner in the beautiful town hall, which is all decorated up for the occasion,” Mrs Hardy said.

Mr Stewart, who works as chef manager at John McGlashan College, will lead the “cooking brigade” for the third time this Christmas, under the umbrella of Compass.

“It’s good fun, and having so many volunteers makes it a lot easier to manage,” he said.

Mr Hardy paid tribute to Mr Stewart for his expertise and willingness to lead the cooking of the massive Christmas dinner.

“It is vital to have the surety of knowing we have skilled people cooking the Christmas dinner, and the food is always beautiful.”

On the menu for Christmas Day will be roast pork and hogget, potatoes and vegetables, with pavlova, fruit salad and plum pudding for dessert.

In addition to the many volunteers preparing and serving the meal, the Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner is also supported by Dunedin musicians, led by Peter Kesha, who provide entertainment.

Mr Hardy said the roster of volunteers for this year’s event was “chokka”, but there was still lots of space available for guests.

“We want everyone to have a great day on Christmas Day, so come and join us.”

To register, phone Dunedin Community House on 471-6150, or email connectsouth.org.nz/dinner.