wine education

Our chef’s best tips for Christmas entertaining

Sean Lindley, head chef at Our Table restaurant at our home in the Barossa, shares his perfect Christmas Day.


While some people prepare for all the joys a White Christmas brings, head chef at Jacob’s Creek Our Table restaurant Sean Lindley is looking forward to a sunnier festive season. From his base in South Australia’s esteemed Barossa wine region, Sean tells us how he likes to celebrate Christmas and shares some of his best entertaining tips.

“The week before is the busiest time of the year at the restaurant.

But Christmas Day is one of only two days each year when the restaurant is closed. So for me, the celebrations are all about downing tools and enjoying good food, good wine and good people.

Although the weather can get pretty hot this time of year in South Australia, our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is roast pork, red cabbage, caramelised potatoes, lots of gravy and the much sought-after crackling for those who are quick enough to get it. Bon-bons (or Christmas crackers for our Northern Hemisphere friends) are a must, and everyone has to read the terrible joke aloud and wear a paper crown for the duration of dinner.”

Sean’s tip: Volunteer to be in charge of the roast pork. That way you can have the first pick of the crackling.

“Christmas Day is a huge affair with the extended family.

It’s always a long lunch with plenty to eat and drink spaced out over a few hours. Every year there is a combined effort when it comes to the food, with everyone bringing something for lunch – it’s always expected that I’ll cure a side of salmon and make pork and duck rillettes.”

Sean’s tip: When Christmas Day celebrations involve a large gathering of loved ones, ask everyone to bring something for lunch to help lighten the host’s workload.

“Christmas hosting honours are shared among the family each year.

The traditional prerequisites include a swimming pool or dam for an afternoon dip, an outdoor area with plenty of shade, and a well-stocked wine cellar to raid in the evening. A bottle of wine and a plate of food is expected for entry… and you will always be judged on the wine!”

Sean’s tip: If you’re a guest, a bottle of Jacob’s Creek wine is sure to impress. If you’re the host, bring out your biggest wine glasses – it’s a special occasion, after all.

“I like to use simple tricks from the restaurant at home.

They give Christmas lunch a bit of extra flair. A good hint is not to overdo it when serving. Less food on the plates looks much neater and elevates the presentation – people can always go back for seconds. Another option is to place beautifully styled platters and large bowls of food on the table to pass around. It adds to the fun of sharing and is much easier than plating up each course.”

Sean’s tip: Don’t overthink it – keep the menu and serving style simple. Less is more, as they say.

“There’s not much cooking required after Christmas Day.

That leg of baked ham in the fridge slowly dwindles over those following lazy days. It’s just the thing for cold dinners and snacks. We also pick up a big box of fresh cherries from a roadside seller in the Adelaide Hills to enjoy for as long as they last.”

Sean’s tip: Keep the celebrations going and invite friends around to share leftovers. Serve with refreshing salads, easy sides, fresh cherries and, of course, a decent bottle of wine. 

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