JOY TO THE WORLD | Shoppers dig into a surprise feast

Celebrity chef Miguel Maestre and Stockland Wetherill Park hosted a Christmas feast last Wednesday, surprising shoppers.
Celebrity chef Miguel Maestre and Stockland Wetherill Park hosted a Christmas feast last Wednesday, surprising shoppers.

Celebrity chef MiguelMaestre and Stockland Wetherill Park hosted a Christmas feast last Wednesday, surprising shoppers.

A mix of competition winners, social-media influencers and shoppers selected at random were invited to take a seat at the table where a Christmas feast was set up in the middle of the shopping centre.

It was part of Stockland’s latest campaign to promote the festive spirit, unexpected joy and the spirit of sharing.

And local shop-owners helped provide food and drink for the event, which included a variety of tasty salads, succulent chicken, seafood, sushi, mini burgers and mouth-watering desserts.

“The canolis here are the best!" says chef Miguel.

“The canolis here are the best!" says chef Miguel.

Chef Miguel said there were definitely stand-out favourites at the table.

“The canolis here are the best! We’ve got different flavours but it’s traditionally supposed to be ricotta, which we have. It’s the proper Italian way,” he said. 

Stockland hopes families, shopkeepers and businesses were able to reflect on the event and be inspired to help out some of the 500,000 Australians who spend Christmas alone.

The host, chef Miguel said the lunch was a success and the message of giving and sharing was appreciated by those at the table.

All the statistics behind Christmas show many, many people are alone and if you can help share some unexpected joy then even the smallest thing can make a difference to someone’s life.

“The lunch was amazing – there were people laughing and sharing good food. It’s unexpected joy! Every year we come up with something different for Christmas.

“All the statistics behind Christmas show many, many people are alone and if you can help share some unexpected joy then even the smallest thing can make a difference to someone’s life. Community spirit and spending time with others is the most important part of Christmas,” he said.

The chef said Stockland’s latest campaign is close to his heart as he had also experienced loneliness during Christmas, coming from abroad.

“I’m really excited to be part of this campaign as I know first-hand what it’s like to be alone at Christmas. When I was in my early 20s I moved to Scotland to further my career and learn English. It was an exciting time but it was also lonely without my family and friends.”

Mr Maestre said elderly neighbours or international students are common examples of those who may spend Christmas alone.

“I hope that Stockland’s Christmas campaign inspires Aussies to think about someone in their local community who might be alone this year and reach out to invite them to their lunch. After all, like food, Christmas is better when shared!”

One competition winner who enjoyed the event was Cecil Hills resident Sue Attard with her cousin Kim.

Ms Attard won two seats through a competition on Stockland’s Facebook page which asked people what they do to help others at Christmas. She said every year she does something to help others and this year she donated to Freeman Catholic College.

“I think today’s been brilliant. Miguel has been so warming and it’s been a great atmosphere. I’ve come with my cousin Kim who’s visiting from Harvey Bay. I think there should be more sharing joy at this time of the year actually.” 

And the food? “It surpassed my expectations – I loved the sushi!”

  • To spread joy, Stockland has partnered with Mission Australia as an option for customers wishing to donate to help give families a safe and secure home this Christmas.