So, Covid-19 has undoubtedly been the most challenging situation for a generation, not just for the catering and hospitality industry but life as we ‘knew’ it; dealing with the virus itself, keeping ourselves and our families safe, not seeing our families, friends and colleagues, working through lockdown or not working at all (bringing further pressures financially) and a travel ban through the summer months when we are all usually planning some holiday time away in often sunnier climes. Add to that the general day to day challenges life brings, it’s been a tough year!
We’re all super keen to start getting back to some form of normality, at work and home. Even though I suspect we are now resigning ourselves to the thought, things may never be the same again. However, and I’ve always likened hospitality to being on the stage, the show MUST go on!
The current situation
Throughout this period bartlett mitchell have been totally focused on supporting our teams, clients and customers as much as possible – Open and Honest is one of our FOODIE values and we’ve consistently delivered on this during the toughest of times, whether it be good or bad news, but now it seems the recovery is, slowly, starting. Clients who have remained open throughout the pandemic are slowly but surely bringing increased numbers back to work. Some are reopening for the first time – taking tentative steps in the first few weeks, then increasing headcount and providing more services once satisfied their location can operate safely and securely without any concerns.
Great news we say, bring it on!! However, some clients are still reticent to invoke any kind of small, medium or large-scale return to work (especially in Central London and other key business cities where public transport is the most sensible commuter option) and have not yet made any clear indication of when they will repopulate their sites – some even muting it may not be until January to June 2021.
We totally understand those concerns and we’re here to help! As referenced in Antony’s blog ‘Catering for Essential Organisations’ a few weeks ago we have worked with our clients and partners on-site throughout the pandemic, giving us the necessary experience and knowledge to reopen catering safely. To further recognise and support this we’ve recently been awarded the Visit Britain ‘Good to Go’ award for Covid safety.
So, to support the thought process and help get things moving we’ve pulled together our ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ which includes some helpful tips on what to consider when reopening your catering facilities. From planning access requirements for teams, marking out safe one-way routing, through to increasing the food offer as the returning population grows, we hope it provides an insight into the items you need to consider to get catering back up and running. Because if you’re like me, you just want someone else to make you a sandwich or cook you a meal!
Hopefully those tips will allow you to formulate your own ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ – then ultimately, it’s time to implement it!
My earliest food memory is chocolate ‘concrete’ cake and pink custard. My Nan and Grandad used to have it delivered by ‘meals on wheels’ every Wednesday. I must have only been about 5 years old. I didn’t realise at the time the reason why they always saved it for me and my sister. Years later my mum explained that because my grandparents had false teeth they couldn’t eat the cake! I loved it even with a skin, custard was still delicious!
Food that’s trending for you
In the past I had a massive aversion to anything that tasted of coconut (other than a Bounty Bar). So I was never a fan of Thai cuisine. Following a chance encounter with a Thai Green curry about 6 months ago I now am a total convert. I can’t get enough of all things Thai and fusion! Whilst I will never be vegetarian or vegan I do love the ‘plant-based vibe’ at the moment. The freshness, textures, colours and flavours are so great I don’t miss the meat. Between three and five of my meals every week are now meat-free.
Favourite place to eat
I am a total carnivore and cannot resist an amazing steak (and a glass of red wine). Hawksmoor stands out for Will & Huw’s unwavering commitment to great British grass fed beef and their knowledgeable, enthusiastic and friendly staff. They’ve got a Northern outpost in Manchester so I am a very happy man. I love Scotland and Edinburgh in particular. We always look in on Tom and Mic at The Kitchin if we can. We’ve had the most amazing Sunday brunch with the kids at their Scran & Scallie pub in Stockbridge. Tom’s ‘from nature to plate’ ethos shows through in every dish.
Most memorable meal
Working in this industry I have eaten many memorable meals. They include Michelin starred establishments, staff restaurants and hospitality in landmark buildings along with many local and neighbourhood restaurants. My stand out meal was at Ora D’Aria in Florence. The chef patron Marco Stabile is a genius of Italian cuisine and a true gentleman. It was our last ‘adults only’ trip before we welcomed our daughter after a long journey to parenthood. It was a significant as an amazing Valentine’s dinner in a beautiful city. And it was the last time we dined without worrying about getting back for a childminder or thinking about the children if we are away.
My ideal dinner guests
My ideal dinner guests would be my mum, wife and kids. I lost my mum when I was very young so I’d love her to meet my family. To see her together with them chatting, laughing, eating and getting to know each other would be magical. I’d do all the cooking, so best to have a doctor there too!
Given our busy household my cookbook inspiration is Jamie & Joe’s Meals in Minutes. Family eating tips from Lorraine Pascale and Lisa Faulkner are always good. For special entertaining I like Tom Kitchin’s, Kitchin Suppers which is amazing or ‘How to Eat In’ by Adam Byatt. The pages have both become a bit dog-eared over the years. My wife Debbie is an awesome baker so the kitchen book cupboard (we outgrew the shelf) is overflowing with baking books and recipes.
Three items always kept in your fridge
The three items I always have in my fridge are Champagne, I am always ready for a celebration. Cheese, this could be strong cheddar, parmesan or stilton. And Little Miss Hug & Mr Bump bruise soothers, I am prepared for every eventuality.More from Russell Scanlon