This isn’t the most bullish of markets – many restaurants are shut, cruise ships are grounded, staff has been laid off and people are staying home. But it doesn’t mean that all is lost. The general public still needs food, and having the food service industry function at least partly can ensure some movement of money in the economy.
The Goa government has joined other state governments in making the food service industry more accessible during the coronavirus lockdown. Restaurants are working with minimal staff and must adhere to safety and health guidelines. Cruise ship chefs are well-versed with some of the toughest safety measures in practice. Their expertise and knowledge are a big asset during this time.
Restaurants typically have wholesale sources for produce. These contacts can help greatly to stay up to date with availability and delivery of essential ingredients. Cruise ship chefs, like restaurant chefs, are also adept at making the most of available ingredients – swapping where necessary or creating whole new dishes when required.
Working in tandem with food delivery operators such as Swiggy and Zomato, it is now possible to operate even during a lockdown. Cruise ship chefs will do well to follow all safety guidelines even if they decide to work from home while the economy is recovering.
Home delivery of delicious food offers a small respite to families struggling to cope with being stuck indoors. Eating one’s favourite food has a positive effect on the body’s natural pleasure chemical dopamine.
It is important to think of the kinds of food people might miss during the lockdown. Perhaps it is a particular exotic cuisine not easily replicated at home – say Thai or Mexican. Or dishes people normally eat at their ancestral homes or made by their grandmothers who they are unable to meet during this time – local Goan teatime specialties and desserts.
As the transport of essential goods gets smoother with necessary safety precautions, ingredients are expected to be more easily available. This will allow skilled chefs to widen their repertoire or use better quality ingredients.
Still, the idea typically has been to offer small, manageable menus that can be changed frequently based on the ingredients available. Using other media such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, chefs can garner a steady stream of orders.
Working is ingrained into a restaurant chef’s life and many are finding the urge to do something with their time during the lockdown rather than just sit around. They are uploading videos of cooking classes, posting recipes and generally helping their followers put together meals from what they have in their kitchen. This is a great way to increase your fan following too. If you are the inventive sort, this is also the perfect time to work on a cookbook of your own recipes.
Others can volunteer their time to cook meals for the needy, allowing them to feed their passion as well as a hungry stomach. Cooking thousands of meals a day comes naturally to cruise ship chefs and they thrive in the chaos, adapting to crisis situations as the need arises – from line cooks suddenly falling sick and ingredients running out to power blackouts.
Restaurants can also work to save themselves from an impending economic recession by selling vouchers and tables for the future. Those that are able to are working with minimum staff to cater to home deliveries. So chefs with the most skills will always make the cut.