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Manu Feildel serves up hope at Maroubra Salvos

Manu Feildel serves up hope at Maroubra Salvos

Manu Feildel serves up hope at Maroubra Salvos

21 July 2020

Celebrity chef Manu Feildel cooked a surprise meal for six Salvo volunteers to show his support for The Salvation Army.

By Pallavi Singhal

Celebrity chef Manu Feildel cooked a three-course meal for Salvation Army volunteers to show his appreciation for the work of the organisation during COVID-19.

Six Salvation Army volunteers have been treated to dinner cooked by a celebrity chef at Maroubra Salvation Army in Sydney.

Jack, Connie, Dwayne, Dianne, Paul and Lauren were six unsuspecting but deserving Salvation Army volunteers invited to a special night at Maroubra Salvos. Unknown to them, their dinner was being prepared by popular television chef Manu Feildel.

A supporter of The Salvation Army, Manu decided to show his appreciation through what he loves doing – cooking! As he puts it, “It’s a terrible time at the moment and where we can help [we] should be helping. That’s why I’m happy to say thanks to these guys because they’re doing a fantastic job ... they’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Manu cooked the meals in his own kitchen and then drove to Maroubra Corps where he was taken through a back entrance to the kitchen to put the final touches on the meals.

The guest list

Seated in the ‘dining room’ were eight dinner guests – Captain Joanne and Cadet Keven Williams (Maroubra Corps Officers) and the six volunteers.

Jack started volunteering at The Salvation Army almost a year ago when he needed to build work hours for Newstart. He loved the work and quickly became a part of the Maroubra Corps family. With experience as a chef, Jack often helps in cooking meals.

Volunteering alongside Jack is Connie, who is the supervisor of the corps kitchen – looking after the menu and allocating jobs. Joanne believes that without Connie and Jack, community meals wouldn’t happen.

Celebrity Chef, Manu Feildel speaks with Paul and Lauren of The Salvation Army. Paul became a Salvationist after connecting with Inner West Salvos while receiving help during his recovery journey. Through that connection, he met longtime Salvo Lauren, and the couple married just before the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a community member and volunteer at the corps, Dwayne helps at the reception desk and with administration jobs when assistance is needed. He is also involved at The Salvation Army’s Sydney Streetlevel and has been associated with the Salvos for almost a decade. 

Dianne, who experienced addiction earlier in life, came to the Salvos through Pathways (drug and alcohol addiction recovery program) and is currently volunteering at the corps.

Paul connected with the Salvos at Petersham while undergoing recovery for a drug and alcohol addiction. While there, he met and was mentored by Major Steve Briggs. Through this, Paul found friendship and community, and got his first job working at Stanmore House, where he gained skills in catering and barista work. From there, he was promoted to running the café at The Salvation Army headquarters in Redfern – where he still works today. Paul also met his wife Lauren through The Salvation Army at Petersham.

First connecting with the Salvos as a teenager, Lauren fell in love with the work and impact it had on the community. She chose to dedicate her life to children and youth – a passion area for her – and is currently working as the Youth and Young Adults Manager for The Salvation Army in NSW. 

Maroubra Corps is like a family to a number of its volunteers. Often, many of those who come to the Salvos do not have a family of their own. At the Salvos, they can find companionship, a shared experience and even love – as was the case for Paul and Lauren, who met through The Salvation Army and married days before COVID-19 struck.

The surprise unfolds

For the surprise evening, Manu prepared the main course of stuffed chicken breast with creamed spinach wrapped in prosciutto with a mushroom sauce, a potato gratin and a decadent chocolate mousse with chocolate tuiles for dessert.

Walking out to the dining room carrying the plates, he was greeted with squeals of surprise and joy. Approaching each diner, he set their plates down with a cheerful hello before hand-dressing each meal with his signature sauce.

Following the main course, Manu served dessert, which was again met with applause and gratitude. The guests chatted with Manu and each other – laughing, sharing stories and enjoying the delicious meal the celebrity chef had prepared for them. When asked for a review, one of the diners proclaimed, “Honestly, one of the best meals I’ve ever had.”

Manu believes that giving back is the best thing, and that is certainly something all the guests of the evening have done tenfold – giving back to their beloved community and making sure they can help those who need it most.

PALLAVI SINGHAL IS CONTENT SPECIALIST WITH THE SALVATION ARMY BRAND DEPARTMENT

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