Oban chef who experienced homelessness to cook Christmas dinner for those in need

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After experiencing homelessness, a top chef and forager is planning to give something back by cooking Christmas dinner at Hope Kitchen.

Gary Goldie, who now lives across the road from the Oban charity, which doubles up as a food bank, was due to make the festive feast on Tuesday December 25.

Gary is predominantly a forager and travels across Scotland, and sometimes to England, picking all sorts of wild food.

However, after going through a break-up and spending a period of time living out of his van, he wanted to give something back to Hope, which provides food and companionship for those in need.

‘I should have been coming here when I was kipping in my van and going foraging,’ he said, ‘but I didn’t know how it worked.’

Speaking about being homeless, he added: ‘I know what it is like. It’s so difficult. People are like, “just pull up your socks, just get a grip, go work here, go work there”, but you can’t even do your washing and you just become numb.’

While Gary distributes his foraged foods to eateries across the country, including Michelin-starred restaurants, there are aspects of cooking he still misses.

‘It’s the pleasing people part that I miss. I like taking people on journeys and making people forget about stuff and I can do that through cooking.

‘They forget about their problems, their tax bill, their worries with their partners, or whatever. I can’t do that with foraging but what I like about the foraging is the fact I can just go and I have such a free mind.

‘Argyll is brilliant. Taynuilt is just the best. I love it so much. I can’t find any other village like it. It must be the way the river comes in and the sea lochs there and the mountains and Loch Awe … something magical happens there.’

This is the third year that Hope Kitchen has opened its doors on Christmas Day, though it is the first time the charity will be serving dinner. In the first two years, which attracted 15 and 21 people respectively, it served soup and turkey sandwiches.

Manager Lorraine MacCormick said she was ‘made up’ to be having Gary in cooking.