Letâs reflect on the positive things to come from 2020. Some great chefs have risen to the fore. Kerth Gumbs blasted on to our screens. Lighting up Great British Menu and our Instagram feeds. Tom Kerridge has released a new cookbook which seems to be on every chefs Christmas wish list (Hint Hint). Youâve probably perfected your sourdough recipe during the first lockdown and learned too many TikTok dances. Many chefs have been doing their bit for their local communities. Providing food for local charities and those less fortunate. Some have been hosting online tutorials to share their skillset with other chefs and home cooks. I, myself offered some cook-along classes via Zoom and Facebook. I have to say, that was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Connecting with people online as we all muddle through this pandemic together.
We, as an industry have shown how we can adapt to this pandemic with only a few days notice. Takeaway only? Sure. Tables of six maximum? Sure, we got it. Same households only? Ok, no problem Boris. You want the minimum wage bar staff to police that too? Errr OK? We have shown our resilience. Even when the floodgates opened for the Rishi Dishi event, also known as the Eat Out to Help Out campaign. We were there. Day one, took a lot of us by surprise. But by week 2 we got it worked out. Well. Some of us did. Others bailed in a fanfare of âfuck that!â We should be so proud of how we have come together as a business sector. Suppliers and wholesalers all working together with compassion and understanding so that we can all try to survive.
Iâve literally just got off the phone with one of my fish suppliers for this weekendâs delivery. Signing off the call with âweâll see what next week bringsâ Neither of us knowing which Tier we are about to be dropped in to.
We in hospitality have the capability to evolve and adapt, almost overnight in some cases. Turning a food-led pub into a cook-at-home meal kit supplier. Chefs wearing face shields and masks, trying not to suffocate. Michelin starred chefs now vacuum sealing their talent for the domestic cooks to try and replicate, reheat and not destroy at their convenience. Pallets of plastic takeaway boxes awaiting to be filled by the chefs at restaurants and pubs up and down the country, each sealed food portion containing a little disapproving look from Ms Thunberg and many other environmentalists. Itâs a little ironic that we now prefer our fruit and veg wrapped in plastic at the supermarkets. A perspective which would have drawn heavy criticism just 18 months ago. Hopefully, weâll return to the plastic free, or greener plan once we see daylight at the end of this pandemic, if not sooner. Saving the planet, much like many other global issues, seems to have taken a back seat. We can only hope that our new normal narrative will contain a little more foresight and not be brushed off as âTomorrows problemâ â¦.hope.
Christmas is just a few days away and this was supposed to be a festive blog. All I can really do is wish you all a merry Christmas. Letâs hope 2021 is a better year for everyone. The Christmas party season is a non-event this year. In my 30 years as a chef, Iâve only ever had one festive period off. That was due to a job change and I managed to wrangle the whole of December off prior to starting. On reflection, that period of my life could have been seen as a trial Lockdown. I had shut myself off from society and I had become at one with my armchair. All being well, by the time you are reading this, you have something which resembles a new normal for you. Some consistency. I hope you can see a pathway through 2021 and beyond. Better days are coming, thatâs my promise to you. If you are going through crap right now. I can assure you that weâll soon be returning to moaning about the hours, the over booked restaurant, the management who think we are magicians. Weâll look back on the Furlough days with rose tinted glasses. Remembering the lazy sunny afternoons and the boredom with fondness. Stay positive. Reach out and chat with your peers. No one is finding it easy right now. Try to stay safe and healthy.
Although we should celebrate our successes through 2020, there is room for improvement. The level of cohesion throughout the industry does fall short at the top end unfortunately. Through no fault of our own, we have a clear lack of representation at the highest level. There is a campaign to appoint a government minister to represent the Hospitality sector. A sector with is worth Â£130 Billion in the UK alone. If youâre interested thereâs a link to the petition Here.