Ukrainian-Australian model and makeup artist Olena Khamula – who was one of the final three contenders in season four of The Bachelor – has always adored being around her family, especially on Christmas Day. Just don’t get her to roast the chicken.
“For me Christmas is definitely about the food and having family around. It’s just not Christmas to me without my family’s Christmas dinner. We cook traditional Ukrainian dishes so there are a lot of different salads. My favourite Ukrainian dish is olivye which is like a potato salad. We’re pretty much all Ukrainian around the table with my parents, my sister, my uncle’s family and a couple of family friends.
But we also embrace our Australian lifestyle by mixing in the Australian culture with the Ukrainian. So we’ll have prawns, lots of seafood and we’ll put on a barbecue as well. We’ve been here for a long time and my sister was born here so she’s a full-on Aussie!
After dinner we put all the fruit on the table and we’ll do a little cake at the end as well. Mum usually buys a pavlova, I’ll get a cheesecake and we’ll have the two on the table. We’ll also have champagne and wine and we might do a shot of Russian vodka for future love and luck. Mum and I have a deal that if she’s going to cook then I’ll do the cleaning afterwards – she loves having me clean!
I’ll also help out in the background while Mum cooks. She does the hard work but she’ll get me to help out with a salad. I burnt the chicken once. I forgot about it while I was doing the salads and it went completely black! It was a long time ago and I was probably only 18 years old at the time. It was probably the worst thing that’s ever happened. There was no saving it but we had prawns instead and everyone was really happy with that.
I’ve spent a few years away from Australia, travelling around Asia, and Christmas during those years was quite different. I was on the phone to my family every single day while I was overseas and on Christmas we Skyped for dinner while I was in a restaurant.
Now I’m trying to bring different cultures into our kitchen so mum and I go back and forth teaching each other new things. I’ve pretty much nailed the Ukrainian dishes and I always teach her Asian dishes.”
Christmas gift ideas: