In the most unprecedented global crisis of our time, the hospitality industry is suffering like never before. While medical staff around the world look after the sick during the Covid-19 pandemic, restaurants and bars are doing their best to feed the hungry while trying to keep their businesses afloat and pay their staff.
But a global industry that thrives on the community is working together to pull through. With initiatives from soup kitchens to repurposed grocery stores and employee-relief funds, restaurateurs and bartenders are doing everything they can to help keep our favorite places alive. These restaurants and bars have seen us through a lifetime of celebrations and hard times. Now it’s our turn to show them some love in return. Here’s how:
1. Supporting vulnerable communities
Who’s behind it: José Andrés, Rasmus Munk, Eric Korn
At a time when they are worried about their own livelihoods and those of their employees, the world’s top cooks are also thinking of the more vulnerable. Having closed all his Washington DC and New York restaurants, chef José Andrés has now transformed many of them into community kitchens. The chef, who was awarded the 2019 American Express Icon Award for his humanitarian work, said: “We can all change the world through the power of food. Let’s be strong, let’s be smart and let’s love each other, but this time loving each other is staying away from each other.” Through #ChefsforAmerica, Andrés is also sending individually packaged meals to people in need in the Bronx and Queens areas of New York.
Meanwhile, in Westchester, New York, a coalition of chefs including Eric Korn has pledged to make one million gallons of soup for the surrounding communities under the @MillionGallons initiative. In Copenhagen, Rasmus Munk of Alchemist has started a non-profit called JunkFood to provide healthy meals to homeless people whose shelters may be closed or full. Munk is calling for volunteer chefs.
How to help: Consider donating or volunteering at local community kitchens
More info: joseandres.com/covid
2. Lobbying governments
Who’s behind it: Will Guidara, Alice Waters, Michael Sager, David Chang and more
Restaurateurs and bartenders around the world are petitioning their governments to provide specific support to the hospitality industry, with several demands being made and updates happening daily. In the UK, some will see relief from business rates and a nationwide loan package, but owners are asking for additional measures such as employee rescue plans to save jobs and moratoriums to prevent them from losing their properties. In the US, a series of restaurateurs including Will Guidara and Alice Waters have signed a petition requesting help such as emergency employment benefits and the waiving of payroll tax. Eater is encouraging readers to lobby their local government representatives and has provided a script to press for a relief programme.
How to help: Follow your local chefs and restaurants to find links to relevant petitions
3. Ordering takeout
Who’s behind it: Chefs all over the world
As many restaurants shut their doors for an undefined period of time, kitchen teams are working to adapt their menus so that customers can still order takeout or delivery and, in turn, support an increasingly fragile industry. In Mexico City, Quintonil has created limited takeout options in biodegradable packaging with a view to continuing to support its entire supply chain. In Copenhagen, the team at Relae has repurposed its Mirabelle bakery and restaurant as a grocery store selling fresh pasta, bread, pastry and cheese. While health and safety has always been first and foremost at these restaurants, chefs are now putting extra measures in place to ensure food safety, and experts have said the virus is unlikely to be transmitted through food or packages. Contact-free delivery services are increasingly available.
How to help: With supermarkets running low on supplies, those financially able should continue to support their local restaurants for as long as they remain open. The situation is constantly changing so check Instagram or websites such as Dining at a Distance for updates.
4. Practising kindness
Who’s behind it: Monica Berg and many more
While the overriding feeling in the restaurant and bar world right now is one of mutual support and community, the coronavirus crisis has brought out xenophobia and racism in a minority of individuals. After an incident while shopping in London, bartender Monica Berg at Tayēr + Elementary has reminded her followers to be kind: “As much as we are all scared and uncertain, we need to stay positive and try not to take our insecurities out on one other.”
How to help: Don’t stockpile; think of your neighbours; be considerate; be kind
5. Self-isolating = home cooking and cocktail-making
With many of the world’s workers stuck at home, there’s never been a better time to dust off those cookbooks and learn to make that dish you’ve always wanted to master. Fortunately, the world’s best chefs are on hand to help, with many posting recipes and videos on their Instagram channels. Under the #KitchenQuarantine initiative, Osteria Francescana chef Massimo Bottura is keeping followers entertained with upbeat daily cooking videos and Q&As from his home with his two children and wife Lara Gilmore. In Lima, José del Castillo of Isolina is publishing recipes for comforting Peruvian meals, and a Spanish-language channel and hashtag #YoMeQuedoEnCasaCocinando (‘I stay at home cooking’) has launched with chefs including Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz. London bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana is also posting cocktail how-tos on Instagram.
How to help: Social distancing. Use these videos as an incentive to stay home and eat well.
6. Supporting producers
Who’s behind it: Dominique Crenn, Dylan Watson-Brawn, Peter Sanchez Iglesias, Andrew McConnell
It’s not just restaurants that are suffering but producers and the entire supply chain too. To support small farmers whose produce would go to waste while restaurants are closed, Berlin restaurant Ernst has created a new service selling produce boxes to locals. In Bristol, UK, chef Peter Sanchez Iglesias of Casamia is selling parcels of the ingredients used at his restaurants. In London, chef José Pizarro has turned his restaurant into a store selling the produce the restaurant would usually be cooking. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, chef Dominique Crenn has put together healthy, vegan food kits using supply from her biodynamic farm Bleu Belle as well as vegan and vegetarian dishes for takeout. Those who cannot afford a food kit can contact the Crenn Group for assistance. In Slovenia, chef Ana Roš is getting creative with new products to deal with excess milk supply, and in Melbourne, Andrew McConnell is selling seasonal veg boxes.
How to help: Check restaurants and farms in your local area and follow @themadfeed for global updates
More info: madfeed.co
7. Pay it forward – invest in your favourite restaurants today
Who’s behind it: Daniela Soto-Innes, Enrique Olvera, Tom Brown
Many of the restaurants that close because of coronavirus will never reopen, with even the most successful ones left vulnerable, but there are ways to support. Here are a few ways to help, beyond buying takeout.
– Instead of cancelling a reservation, postpone it by booking in later in the year or making a diary date to rebook in future
– Donate money to staff who are now unable to work at bars and restaurants such as Cosme and Atla
– Purchase a gift card for your favourite restaurant (and give yourself something to look forward to in the process)
– Buy merchandise from your favourite restaurants or bars, for example Tayēr + Elementary
– Donate to relief funds such as Hospitality Action in the UK, supported by chef Tom Brown of Cornerstone, or the US Bartenders Guild Emergency Assistance Program
More info: uk.gofundme.com/c/blog/fundraising-for-coronavirus
8. Looking to the future
Who’s behind it: Ana Roš and many more
For many hospitality staff, the coronavirus pandemic will mean the longest enforced period at home in an entire career or lifetime, which can lead to demotivation and panic. But for chefs like Roš of Hiša Franko, whose entire team was forced to stay at the restaurant when Slovenia’s borders suddenly closed, this is a time for reflection and future planning. Roš and her team are using the quiet time to generate positive ideas for the future and to work out solutions to some of the biggest problems in the food system.
How to help: Reach out to your favorite establishments with support and use any downtime to make positive plans for your own future
9. Fermenting, not stockpiling
Chefs involved: Jason White, David Zilber
Supermarket shelves around the world are empty due to stockpiling, but there are other ways to get hold of nutritious food without panic buying or surviving on tinned produce. Jason White, head of research and development at the upcoming Audrey in Nashville, offered his fermentation consultancy services for free to support restaurants that have been forced to suddenly close with hundreds of kilograms of unused vegetables and other perishable stock. The chef taught a business owner in India how to preserve bulk stews and soups and showed a Venezuelan man to make jerky from meat that could not be refrigerated because of the crisis. Those wanting to learn to ferment at home can read René Redzepi and David Zilber’s Noma Guide to Fermentation.
Who’s behind it: Hong Kong media, chefs and bartenders
While the outbreak began in China, there are positive signs from a region that is already beginning to recover, and the hospitality industry is no exception. United We Dine is a new initiative in response to the hit that restaurants and bars have suffered after a sustained period of economic unrest and coronavirus in Hong Kong. A collaborative effort by Hong Kong’s media and food and beverage professionals, United We Dine encourages diners to support the industry using social media and to eat and drink at any of its 100 participating sites in exchange for additional prizes and incentives. Restaurants and bars include 50 Best favourites Amber, Caprice, Frantzen’s Kitchen, Lung King Heen, Ronin, Stockton, Ta Vie, Tenku RyuGin, Tate Dining Room, Vea and many more.
How to help: If you have the means and if you are told it is safe, eat out.
More info: unitedwedine.hk
11. Sharing local initiatives
Who’s behind it: You!
We are a global industry, but now is the time to support local. Please share any initiatives from your region so that we can let our followers know how they can play a part.