December is the busiest time of the year in hospitality and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our production chefs are busy making all the classic charcuterie and accompaniments that grace your celebration tables at this time of year. Our team is family, some literal and some metaphorical. We can’t thank them enough for all the time and effort they put in to make the festive season so special.
In between sessions, we managed to pull a few of them aside and asked them to share their Christmas traditions.
After having spent time living in Italy, chef Yoshi can’t imagine a Christmas without panettone. He also points out the very common tradition of having KFC during the Christmas season in Japan.
"I don’t know why and I know it sounds weird but people enjoy it."
Marketing Manager Nick Budicin and his brother Chris (another of City Larder's chefs, pictured) will be surrounded by extended family but as Nick explains, it all begins on the 24th.
"Christmas Eve has been the traditional fish feast throughout the years. Our family is not particularly religious but we do enjoy having fish on Christmas Eve regardless. Sometimes it's just fish and chips and sometimes it’s pasta marinara - mussels, squid in a red sauce. That’s my dad's favourite thing to cook and eat.
"Dad's parents lived with us when we were little kids. My best memory is Nonna cooking fried calamari and I would help her. That was her must-have on Christmas Eve. She’d spend ages cooking it then we’d go to town on it and it was gone in minutes."
For chef Dicky with his family back in Indonesia, he’ll be spending Christmas Day with friends.
"Back home on Christmas Eve, we would have a potluck dinner and then we would all go to Mass. Here in Melbourne, I like going to Carols by Candlelight. On the day itself, I will be sharing a meal with close friends. Again, it’s a potluck meal and there will be presents for the kids. It’s pretty fun."
Co-owner and Operations Manager Rebecca Bell manages to combine her British upbringing with her Australian home.
"We’ve still got to have ham but it's more warm weather appropriate. We find a butcher that sells a green ham which is a brined ham that Robbie then cooks. It's not that common but the flavour is unbelievable.
"Growing up, my nana lived with us and she's of the generation where it's all old-school home-baking, like with the Christmas pudding everybody in the family has to stir it. She would also make a pavlova which, at the time, I didn't realise was an Australian tradition. So, it's come full circle that we're here in Australia now.
"The build up to Christmas is huge for any food business so in recent years, we've started going out for Christmas Day lunch which is a real treat.
"Our son has just turned seven and we’ll be baking biscuits together for Santa. We watch a lot of Christmas movies like Home Alone and the Elf on the Shelf comes to visit but I think he just really likes having us all to himself. My Mum is visiting from the UK this year which is exciting because it's been a really long time."
For Brock, one of our meat production chefs, the festive season is all about family.
"We decorate the tree at the start of December and draw the family Kris Kringle. On Christmas morning for the last ten years or so, we recreate one particular photo where we all sit in the same spot."
More importantly, what’s on the menu?
"I don’t make it too complicated, just doing simple things really nicely. I’ll make a big dish of potato Dauphinoise for example. Plus, we always have a bone in ham.
"We have a little nibble before the meal then pick at it basically all day long – that’s one of the best parts, I reckon. Mum makes her fried rice and there’s always at least a trifle, a pavlova and an apple pie."
To help you spend time where it counts this festive season, we’ve got all the delicious things to bring your meal together from our traditional charcuterie to high quality smallgoods and seafood as well as all the sauces, dressings and accompaniments you’re looking for.
Do you stuff the esky full of seafood and head down the beach for a spot of cricket on Christmas day? Maybe you’ll be road-tripping to catch up with family, kids squished in the backseat beneath piles of presents? Or you might be hosting a quiet bbq in the backyard?
No matter what your Christmas looks like, from our family to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas.