Empty Kitchens and Uncertain Futures in a Post Covid-19 World

I always joked that our kind danced on the razor’s edge of insolvency, what with our low pay, long hours, high burn out rate, poor life expectancy for chef-owned businesses and semi-transient mercenary workforce. Chef’s and their kitchens have always been at the mercy of a lot of financial factors, any of which could sink any restaurant pretty handily no matter how well-managed.

Now that precautionary measures relating to the fast-moving and deadly covid-19 virus has effectively shut down all restaurant traffic in North America we as a society are witnessing just how fragile our hospitality industry is. In a single week hundreds of thousands of my brothers and sisters have been put out of work as states and provinces outlaw sit-down service in favour of take-out just to keep people indoors and away from one another. It’s some serious end of the world stuff and as you can probably imagine I don’t make those razor’s edge jokes like I used to.

In fact, I should probably keep my mouth shut entirely; unlike so many of my brothers and sisters in the industry my kitchen has not closed because of the current pandemic. We serve a community of seniors and cannot halt service or they would starve. We also cannot let the micro bacterial apocalypse into the building or our residents would be decimated. So there are check and balances, questionnaires for every fresh face, sanitizing stations, masks, gloves, tense meetings and very long days.

Hell, while every civilian I know stays home and slides into debt I’m working harder than I ever have along with my crew, who I keep showered with hours to keep their car insurance and mortgages paid as long as I can. They are my family and I owe it to them after years of hard work for me to keep them in the lifestyle to witch they are accustomed. At least until they develop a bit of a cough or a stuffy nose… Then it’s all over and their shifts will go to the next warm body until… Who will be left?

I don’t know. This is big, bigger than me and my lucky little kitchen, bigger than the island, bigger than even our whole industry, which may never recover or at least never return to the way we all remember it after this. People all over the world are hiding in their homes, terrified for their lives and the lives of their friends ‘n families… Others are dead in hospital cots. It’s nuts!

So here’s my plan: I’m just going to do the usual. Get up, shower, ride to work, order food, make some sandwiches, expedite a few hundred boxes of room service, schedule the crew, get back on my bike and go home. Oh yeah, and WASH MY HANDS a couple million times a day. And in the slower moments I’ll pull out my phone, sanitize it thoroughly and catch up on the latest on a variety of sites:

Bon Appetit’s day-to-day coverage /diaries on the covid-19 pandemic and it’s affect on American Food Service.

National Post’s continuing coverage of the Canadian Government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak and it’s financial support of those on EI.

Global News always has some dour updates like this one: “Corona virus pandemic could see 15% of B.C. restaurants close for good” by Simon Little.

Foodservice and Hospitality has a Covid-19 tag that collects stories Canada-wide.

Food And Wine’s brilliantly-written “I’m a Cook Whose Job Suddenly Disappeared. I Don’t Know What to Do” by Jane Brendlinger.

I don’t know how this is all going to shake out but I’d bet that there will be a time in the future when we all look back and point to these weeks of isolation as the moment our industry changed, or hopefully, evolved into something stronger to meet the demands of an uncertain and ever changing world. The only problem is I’ll also bet that change will come at the cost of millions of dollars, boatloads of privately-owned businesses tanked and lives ruined.

Or maybe it wont and I’m just getting edgy like so many other people. Soon I’ll be hoarding sausages and toilet paper and cooking up hand sanitizer in a backyard still. I promise to document any mental instability on this site as a record for future post-covid peoples to study. *laughs*

Seriously, I’ll try and update this site a bit more often if I can, mostly to assure my family that I’m doing okay and also because there has been more traffic during these last two weeks than most of last year combined! Self-isolators need content! My Instagram is overflowing with friend’s pics of sourdough bread, homemade pickles and myriad dinner experiments so if I have the time I’ll try and throw up some recipes for all the people out there ready to try something new.

Stay safe out there people, and wash your damn hands.

7 thoughts on “Empty Kitchens and Uncertain Futures in a Post Covid-19 World

    1. Kitchen Golden Rule #1 Never Panic!
      Don’t you worry, I’ll keep you updated on my day-to-day… Wait, no. That would be very boring.
      I’ll just post when I can.
      Big love!

  1. Ditto what “Judy” up the street said! Great to hear from you! Good luck!
    Daughter worked a month after maternity leave and is now off work indefinitely. Her husband works from home (IT guy) every weekday.
    Son still works at CT with a few less hours a week (re earlier store closings).
    Husband still bicycles every day not raining or snowing badly, often 50+ kilometres at a stretch, biking AROUND people at a distance.
    I still walk in the evenings when not many people to meet (but get our 6′ apart, of course).
    And there’s YOUR news update, LOL!
    Take care….

    1. Thanks for the update!
      I love that your husband still cycles around, he’s probably had those surreal 5:30 in the evening moments when there is not a soul to be seen. We bikers love those moments.
      Glad to hear everyone else in the house is out of the line of fire.
      Stay safe out there.

  2. Not just family checking in to make sure you are OK & Campbell River is more than just a road trip…..stay, safe…

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