Doppelganger chef Bernhard Kerschbaumer serves his ‘simple, honest’ Christmas gift

GIFT OF FOOD: Bernhard Kerschbaumer, daughter Maya and wife Sharon working at Doppelganger on Christmas day. Picture: Jonathan CarrollChristmas day for Bernhard Kerschbaumer is about the pleasure he can givepeople through his cooking.

The Austrian-born chef opened Doppelganger in Darby Street several months ago after moving to Newcastle from Sydney.

On Monday he was hard at work with wife Sharon and teenage daughter Maya in the restaurant preparing and serving a five-course Christmas banquet.

“The nice thing about this is that you do something that hopefully people appreciate and enjoy,” he said.

“It’s not as much about the financial rewards; it’s about the pleasure you bring to people at that time, making other people feel happy. It is nice. You’re able to give something to people, and it’seven nicer if people appreciate it. It’s just in a simple, honest way.”

The restaurant also opened on Christmas eve, and Bernhard said his family was used to an unorthodox festiveseason.

“It’s a bit different to what everybody else assumes at Christmas, Christmas eve and all that. You work a little bit around your personal life. It’s my first Christmas in Newcastle, but I’ve been doing this pretty much my whole life.”

Bernhard said business had been “up and down” since he moved from Sydney, but he had no regrets.

“I love it. Twenty or more years ago it was an industrial town. It wasn’t as attractive then. A few years ago I thought, ‘Wow, there’s some really nice things happening there now.’

“Sydney’s moving, in my personal opinion, a little bit in the wrong direction. It’s starting to lose it’s human touch, whereas Newcastle still has a lovely human touch.

“It’s nice to be in a place where you can see people really love it.”

Meanwhile, the Samaritans held their Christmas Lunch in the Park at Newcastle Foreshore for people who may feel isolated or are experiencing difficulties.

About 250 volunteers served lunch and handed out presents to a bumper crowd of about 1200, the most event coordinator Dana Pichaloff has seen in the lunch’s 16-year history.

The lunch was made possible by sponsors and donors to the Samaritans Christmas Appeal, which continues until December 31 on1300 656 336 or at the Samaritans website.