Preparations under way – Christmas dinner for 600

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Massive meal . . . Visiting the kitchens at Forsyth Barr Stadium, where more than 130kg of hogget roast will be prepared for the Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner, are (from left) Acts of Kindness trustee Anne Hardy, Compass Dunedin head chef Michael Tomlinson and trustee Grant Hardy. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

The kitchens at Forsyth Barr Stadium and the Dunedin Town Hall will be a hive of activity in the lead-up to Christmas Day as chefs prepare enough food for up to 600 people.

The Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner, to be held in the Town Hall from 11.30am on Christmas Day, is a traditional yuletide feast with all the trimmings.

A team of 15 chefs will be led by Compass Dunedin head chef Michael Tomlinson, in preparing 130kg of roast hogget, and a similar amount of roast pork, 120kg of spuds, mountains of peas and carrots, and desserts.

“It takes about three days to cook a meal for 500 to 600 people, and we will need a lot of kitchen space,” Mr Tomlinson said.

“Just roasting the meat alone will keep several ovens going for quite some time.”

It will be the first time Mr Tomlinson, who is head chef for both Forsyth Barr Stadium and Dunedin Town Hall, will lead the cooking.

“It’s a nice thing to be involved in – I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

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

Trustees Grant and Anne Hardy and John Watson took over managing the long-standing community event from founders Dave and Jean Brown, and it will be the fifth time it has been held in the Dunedin Town Hall.

DVML events co-ordinator Karli Haugh is working to support the trust to ensure the day runs smoothly.

Mr Hardy said having access to Dunedin Town Hall for the event was very special.

“It’s the perfect venue for such a special community event – the place looks fantastic all decorated up,” he said.

An army of volunteers will swing into action today to start decorating the town hall and preparing the food, and there will be more than 150 volunteer servers, table hosts, and entertainers involved on Christmas Day.

Mr and Mrs Hardy thanked DVML and Compass for their support in producing excellent quality food and making the Christmas dinner a success.

“It gives us a great sense of relief and comfort to know that the food preparation is in good hands – that makes a huge difference to us,” Mr Hardy said.

The Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner will run from 11.30am to 2.30pm, and will be compered by Alasdair Morrison.

Registrations are open for guests, with bookings being taken through Dunedin Community House, phone 471-6150, or email dch.org.nz