City chef gives away free meals so everyone can have a 'proper Christmas'

Daniel Farrow, owner of The Gatherers in Norwich, who opened up his restaurant on Christmas Day to m

Daniel Farrow, owner of The Gatherers in Norwich, who opened up his restaurant on Christmas Day to make Christmas dinner for people who are lonely and/or struggling financially. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Archant 2021

People who might otherwise have spent the big day alone were offered a "proper Christmas" courtesy of a kind-hearted chef. 

Daniel Farrow is the owner and chef at the Gatherers in Norwich's Muspole Street which opened its doors for free to people who needed a festive roast dinner on December 25. 

He said: "The aim was to make sure everyone could have a proper Christmas.

"It's something I've wanted to do for years - I've got the space and I wanted to make sure that it was put to the best use. 

"We had between 40 and 45 people turn up. Some were families who were struggling a bit at Christmas, some lived by themselves and just wanted to chat with some other people and I think a few didn't have a home where they could cook a nice warm meal. 

"It was a real mixture."

The structure of the day was "very informal" with people invited to turn up between noon and 5pm and stay for as long as they liked. 

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Children who attended the event were also offered a present to take home. 

Hours of work went into preparing the meal for visitors. 

Mr Farrow said: "I started work at about 7am on Christmas eve and worked all the way through the day. I started at about the same time on Christmas day. 

"I must have prepared hundreds of sprouts, hundreds of roast potatoes. I made enough food for about 50 or 60 people and it all went. 

"I just wanted to make sure that everyone felt like they had a proper Christmas. That they weren't given a meal and then rushed out of the door. They could stay and enjoy the venue and the music and the company for as long as they liked."

He added that although he had planned to run the entire day by himself some staff and volunteers did offer up their time. 

He said: "There have been times over the past couple of years where I wondered whether or not this business would survive. 

"It did set us back some money - though not a lot thanks to the donations we got from other businesses for presents and food - but it's not about that. 

"It's not about the money. I just wanted to do the right thing."