It has been a month since the quarantine, and reality has set in. 

The epidemic has crippled many industries, among them the food and beverage sector. It’s difficult to foresee what the future holds for the food business, but for now, the industry is adjusting to provide relief and some normalcy in everybody’s lives.

Many establishments have turned to delivery and takeout. 

Fast-food giant Jollibee has started selling ready-to-cook items such as beef tapa and its beloved Chickenjoy in major supermarkets. Josh Boutwood’s The Test Kitchen has fresh pasta, sauces and variety of breads on offer, while Toyo Eatery has diversified into pansit and silog espesyal in bilao. 

“We’ve always been fans of Amber and other places that offer the bilao for take-out, so it was natural for us to do the Toyo version that can be shared by the family,” said chef-owner Jordy Navarra. 

Toyo’s noodles are made in-house and topped with poached egg, crispy onions, fried pork flakes and alamang.

In Singapore, fine dining restaurants have started offering dishes to-go. Odette’s Kampot Pepper Pigeon and twice-baked cannelés, for example, can now be delivered and enjoyed at home. Meta Restaurant is delivering its Korean Heritage Meal, composed of cabbage chawanmushi and kimbap.

Bel Castro, assistant dean of the College of Hospitality Management at Enderun Colleges, has been raising questions in her Facebook page about the possible changes restaurants have to make:  “Will you ever eat in a buffet again? Bring your kids to children’s parties in their favorite burger joint? Or take lola out to that crowded restaurant?” 

She also lists down the demise of certain practices and trends—from complimentary peanuts and chips at the bar, to grazing tables and boodle fights.Virtual cooking classes

Many chefs are giving online counsel so people can prepare better food at home. 

Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana has been posting cooking-demo videos of his Italian favorites such as ragu, almond gelato and tiramisu on his Instagram (IG). 

Celebrity chefs Giada de Laurentiis and Alex Guarnaschelli organized with Valerie Bertinelli a “progressive dinner party,” in which they recorded cooking demos. 

“Queer Eye” star and cookbook author Antoni Porowski has launched a mini tutorial series in his  account called “Quar Eye: Cooking Lessons in Quarantine.” Such  demos are free. 

In contrast, Sean Brock’s will cost you, but it’s for a good cause. Earnings from his paid virtual classes will fund and support his staff, as he has been forced to close his restaurants.

In Manila, pastry chefs Jackie Ang Po and Pixie Rodrigo Sevilla are doing the same on Facebook, and Ed Bugia on YouTube. Aileen Anastacio posts recipes such as her banana streusel muffins and penne alla vodka on IG, while Kalel Chan and Mikel Zaguirre have been recording their creative dishes step-by-step, also on IG.

A good number of brands are teaching people how to prepare their popular food items at home. DoubleTree by Hilton has shared the recipe of its famous chocolate chip cookies given guests upon check-in.

A lot of cooking professionals are contributing their time and effort to make sure that health front-liners remain in top condition to serve the sick. Karla Reyes, Koyen dela Cerna and JP Anglo are among the chefs involved in Frontline Feeders, while Foodee Global Concepts, Pino Group of Restaurants, The Plaza Catering and The Standard Group are among the companies regularly packing hundreds of meals to feed hardworking medical personnel. 

Also extending their help and resources are Kanto Freestyle Breakfast, Zark’s Burgers, Bamba Bistro, and couple Mon and Chin Bagis of Pio’s Kitchen, who have provided food to the country’s health heroes.

Power in baking
Interestingly, sourdough loaves and banana bread are becoming trendy during the lockdown. Baking supply shops have enjoyed robust business, thanks to people who are finding comfort and a sense of empowerment in baking. 

“A lot of people have free time to bake or cook. Where I live, my neighbors are always looking for flour, butter and eggs. I guess the kitchen is everyone’s favorite place these days,” says chef Aleth Ocampo, who has been getting orders for her line of breads. 

It’s the first time for Erwan Heussaff, Aileen Anastacio and many chefs to do their sourdough starters. They are making good use of their long days by proofing yeast and monitoring rising dough, which they normally wouldn’t have time for on regular working days. Kneading not only relieves home bakers of the anxiety caused by the pandemic, but also fosters self-reliance in these trying times.

Banana bread serves the same purpose, though it is more low-risk and high-reward in nature in comparison to sourdough. Purchasing fresh produce could  be risky nowadays. You want to stock up to avoid leaving the house, but some items are perishable. Bananas are more practical, since the overripe variants make a better baked bread ingredient. Plus, you can store them in the freezer. —CONTRIBUTED INQ                

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