THERE will be a feast of goodwill and festive spirit on the Christmas table for hundreds of residents thanks to a Didcot chef.

With his chef whites on, Max Rapacz will be just one of out of an army of volunteers who is giving up his own family Christmas to get stuck in and cook a lunch, organised by the Oxford Food Bank, for the big day.

Mr Rapacz, who is originally from Poland but has lived in Didcot for the last 15 years, said he wanted to be able to unite cultures and communities.

The 41-year-old said: “Christmas is all about bringing everyone together.

“And what better way to do that, than with a big feast? Food is a wonderful way of sharing and coming together as one community.

“I wanted to do this to really help the refugees and make sure they are included in our celebrations.”

Mr Rapacz will be spending Christmas apart from his daughters who will be visiting family in Edinburgh.

He said: “As we are Polish we tend to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, where we have the big feast, usually a duck or a goose and that is when we exchange all the gifts.

“Christmas day for us is usually a rest day.

“But I am not too sad that I will not be with my girls because I make sure every day with my daughters is a special day, not just Christmas.”

The prospect of cooking for up to 500 people is not a daunting one for the father-of-three.

As the head chef for five years at the King’s Centre in Osney Mead, Mr Rapacz has had to cook for audiences three times as large.

He said: “I am used to cooking for lots and lots of people.

“I think one of the biggest catering events I did here at the King’s Centre was for about 1,600 people.

“We do every type of dish you can think of, hot and cold buffets, Chinese food, French and Italian.

“But my favourite, even more so than Polish food, is Indian.”

For the second year the food bank, based in the Curtis Industrial Estate, is organising the Christmas Day lunch at the King’s Centre.

Lead organiser and food bank volunteer Sara Strong said: “Max is a huge personality whose enthusiasm is catching, so Christmas Day at the King’s Centre is going to be the place to be.”

Following an Oxford Mail appeal, the event is now ‘well stocked’ with volunteers but to ensure the day is one the guests do not forget, the food bank is calling for entertainers who have skills in magic, stilt walking and juggling to get in touch.

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