Menus will need to be developed to get everything they can from produce and make the most of modest ingredients with costs constantly monitored as restaurants reopen, some of the UK's leading chefs have said.
Speaking at a webinar organised by the RA Group, Bryn Williams, chef-patron of Odette's, Porth Eirias and Somerset House said: "We'll have to use every single bit of ingredients. We'll be cooking from the fridge. If you get a dose of Covid in your team and you have to shut up shop with food in your fridges, that's loss again."
Jeff Galvin of the Galvin Collection, also on the panel, agreed, saying: "I think there'll be a lot more speaking to suppliers, more asking ‘what do you have?' and trying to use it and maybe there can be some value in that."
Galvin went on to say that making more of modest and run-of-the mill ingredients, such as lentils, was something that top chefs "have in their armour" and would become key resources that restaurants wanting to stay in business would be championing. Panellist Richard Corrigan of Corrigan Restaurants agreed, saying: "So get your pulses out again – this is a time for pulses!"
The three chefs spoke of reopening with pared-down menus and wine lists – Corrigan said that the wine list at his London restaurant Bentley's was potentially going to be reduced from 300 bottles to 40 or 50 – in order to minimise waste, an issue, said Williams that would be a "big factor in making money day-to-day".
"There can't be any waste in the restaurant in the next six months. You'll have to be on top of every single minute detail," Williams said, expressing concern about whether an operator's attention would be "on the cooking or on not losing money".
Corrigan said those with extensive experience in the industry may have an edge in this, adding that "senior citizens in the hospitality sector," had "wisdom, whereas a lot of the younger folk will really find it hard".
Ultimately among the group, there was a desire to return to the "magic" that comes from putting a plate of food down in front of enthusiastic diners. Yet operating in "survival mode" was also anticipated. Corrigan said: "We have a real, real job on our hands to be responsible. We are the captains of our restaurants in these choppy waters and can we see it through.
"Closing was one thing but opening will be an absolutely different ball game altogether. It's not a reopening – it's a new opening."
You need to create an account to read this article. It's free and only requires a few basic details.
Already subscribed? Log In