A MICHELIN-starred chef is lending his cooking skills to a new restaurant set up to support the homeless.
Home is the latest venture by the team behind Social Bite – the successful chain of sandwich shops which allow customers to “pay a coffee forward” and invest profits to help vulnerable people get back on their feet.
Located in Queensferry Street in the West End, one of the Capital’s top chefs, Martin Wishart, will create monthly specials and take to the kitchen himself once a quarter.
The restaurant, owned by Social Bite and operated by Dean Gassabi of Maison Bleue restaurants, is due to open in mid-September serving French-Scottish cuisine.
It will provide training and employment programmes for members of the Social Bite Academy – the charity’s four-year course for homeless people – and the restaurant will open for a special service for the homeless every Monday afternoon.
It is the latest project of social entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn, who welcomed celebrity customer George Clooney to one of his not-for-profit sandwich shops last November.
Hollywood superstar Leonard DiCaprio is expected to visit the Capital this autumn at Social Bite’s invitation and speak at the Scottish Business Awards.
Mr Littlejohn’s restaurateur father, Simon Littlejohn, and David Wither of Montpelier Group are also supporting the enterprise.
Social Bite currently has two sandwich shops in Edinburgh – in Rose Street and Shandwick Place.
Josh said: “We see this restaurant as the next evolution of the Social Bite concept. It’s a place where diners can come for an amazing dining experience, but also support some of the most vulnerable people in our society at the same time.
“We will be inviting the homeless community into the restaurant every Monday from 3pm to 5pm to eat with dignity – not to offer a handout but a hand-up – to employment, stability and self-worth.”
Mr Gassabi said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Josh and the team at Social Bite on this exciting new venture.
“The idea of making a big difference in the community is something that was of big appeal to me and all of my team here, and we look forward to welcoming diners next month.”
Oscar winner DiCaprio is expected to make his first ever visit to Scotland in November.
Clooney paid a visit to Social Bite’s branch in Rose Street last year and launched an appeal to help homeless people and fund an aid convoy carrying food and clothing to refugee camps across Europe.
It received so many donations that Social Bite said surplus funds would ensure free hot meals and drinks could be provided to the homeless community in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen for a year.
Fans lined Rose Street to welcome Clooney, who took time to chat to the crowd and posed for selfies with Social Bite staff before speaking at the Scottish Business Awards.