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"My Dad is Italian and sometimes when I was younger he would make my school lunches. I'd open my lunchbox and pull out these huge Mediterranean feasts crammed in between two slices of bread. Two types of meat, sliced mozzarella, tomato, lettuce, maybe even some mayo. It was like a junior Re Store conti roll. They were delicious, of course, but I remember at lunch time all the other kids would have plain Vegemite or peanut butter sandwiches and even though my sandwich was delicious, I really wanted to fit in with them. In my head, anything other than the stock standard “Aussie school lunch” wasn’t cool. It’s funny how something as minor as what was in my lunchbox highlighted a cultural difference that I felt self-conscious about. I thought it made me stick out like a sore thumb. Nowadays, I’m so proud of the food my family makes. It’s rich and nostalgic like the languages they speak and it’s one of the strongest points of connection for us all.”

Our very own Claudia Mancini will be hosting a dinner on the 12th of May here at Centre for Stories in the heart of Northbridge. What I Had in My Lunchbox is a collaboration between My Open Table and Centre for Stories that hopes to celebrate the diversity, richness, hilarity and uniqueness of growing up in a multicultural household through the celebration of food and conversation. It’s an open invitation to first-generation Australians, people who migrated to Australia as children, and anybody and everybody who has a story to tell about growing up in a diverse background. Maybe you had fried rice for your school lunch when everyone else was eating Vegemite sandwiches, or maybe you used to blush bright pink when your old, Turkish grandfather would pick you up from school in his pyjamas. Did you used to fear your parents speaking their native language in front of your friends? Come along, dine with us and let’s talk about what was in your lunchbox!

Tickets are $25 and all profits will go to Manna, one of the leading volunteer driven charities in Western Australia serving the homeless and the vulnerable. They provide food, warmth and conversation to disadvantaged individuals, families and children, something every human should have. More info and menu at:

Email: to reserve a seat!