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11 CORONAVIRUS INITIATIVES FROM RESTAURANT AND BARS AROUND THE WORLD

With the food and drink world experiencing the unprecedented impact of the international pandemic, 50 Best shares 11 initiatives from restaurants and bars all over the world and ways we can help. Here is how:

1. Supporting vulnerable communities

Chef José Andrés has transformed many of his restaurants in Washington and New York into community kitchens. The chef, who was awarded with 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.

Ways to help: Donating or volunteering at local community kitchens.

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2. Lobbying governments

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, business rates and a nationwide loan package have been made, but owners are asking for additional measures like employee rescue plans to save jobs and moratoriums to prevent them from losing their properties. In the US, a series of restaurateurs 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.

Ways to help: Follow your local chefs and restaurants to find links to relevant petitions

3. Ordering takeout

As many restaurants shut their doors for an unknown period of time, kitchen teams are working to adapt their menus so that customers can still order takeout and in return, support an increasingly fragile industry. Quintonil (Mexico City) has created limited takeout options in biodegradable packaging with a view of continuing to support its entire supply chain. The team at Relae (Copenhagen) 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 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.

Ways 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. Practicing kindness

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.”

Ways to help: Don’t stockpile; think of your neighbours, be considerate, be kind.

5. Self-isolating

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 has launched with chefs including Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz. London bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana is also posting cocktail how-tos on Instagram.

Ways to help: Social distancing. Use these videos as an incentive to stay home and eat well


6. Supporting producers

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. Chef Peter Sanchez Iglesias of Casamia (Bristol, UK) is selling parcels of the ingredients used at his restaurants. Chef José Pizarro (London) has turned his restaurant into a store selling the produce the restaurant would usually be cooking. Meanwhile, chef Dominique Crenn (San Francisco) has put together healthy, vegan food kits using supply from her biodynamic farm Bleu Belle as well as vegan and vegetarian dishes for takeout. Chef Ana Roš (Slovenia) is getting creative with new products to deal with excess milk supply, and in Melbourne, Andrew McConnell is selling seasonal veg boxes.

Ways to help: Check restaurants and farms in your local area and follow @themadfeed for global updates.

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7. Pay it forward

Many of the restaurants that close because of coronavirus will never reopen, but there are ways to support. This is how:

  • Instead of cancelling a reservation, postpone it by booking it 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
  • Buy merchandise from your favourite restaurants or bars
  • 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

8. Looking to the future

For a lot of hospitality staff, the COVID-19 pandemic means beeing home for the longest period of time in their entire career and that 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 for some of the biggest problems in the food system.

Ways to help: Reach out to your favourite establishments with support and make positive plans for your own future.

9. Fermenting not stockpiling

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 (Nashville), offered his fermentation consultancy services for free to support restaurants that have been forced to suddenly close with hundreds of kilograms of unused fruits and vegetables and other food. The chef taught a business owner in India how to preserve bulk stews and soups and a Venezuelan man to make jerky from meat that could not be refrigerated due to the crisis. Those wanting to learn to ferment at home can read René Redzepi and David Zilber’s Noma Guide to Fermentation.

10. Taking hope from Asia

While the outbreak began in China, there are positive signs from the region that it 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 Amber, Caprice, Frantzen’s Kitchen, Lung King Heen, Ronin, Stockton, Ta Vie, Tenku RyuGin, Tate Dining Room, Vea and many more.

Ways to help: If you have the means and if  it’s safe, eat out.

11. Sharing local initiatives

50 Best calls everyone to share any initiatives from their region so that 50 Best can let their followers know how they can play a part.