Stuck at home-never thought I would say that, but it is the reality of the day as I write to you. The hospitality, catering and events business that has been my world for the last 35-plus years is at a standstill. I am taking this as an opportunity to ask you to do two things. If you haven’t yet ordered from a local restaurant, take the opportunity to do so. I am asking you to avoid chain restaurants that have restaurants on every corner, as they will survive because they are a well-organized manufacturing operation positioned to endure these economic times.
We need to order from the small businesses that are the heart and soul of our culinary world. Whether they are 3 star or not, it doesn’t matter; this is where food lives and where our food community survives. You don’t have to order out every night, but enough for them to keep the lights on, pay employees and be there when this has played out.
The other thing that I am asking you is to go back and find your apron and the knife that may have been put aside during the previous “normal” of “no time to cook.” We have an opportunity to remember the taste of freshly made white bread for sandwiches, hand-made pasta, slow cooked stews and items that needed just a little more time than we had in the past.
I am taking this time to nest in my kitchen and make food that is wholesome, honest and what we really want to eat. I don’t get the concept of the Armageddon buying mindset-that if we have mayonnaise, canned tuna, jarred tomato sauce and flour, we can survive. This is an opportunity to connect as a family over a dinner, bake extra cookies and share with the neighbors and divorce ourselves from the center aisles and freezers of the grocery stores.
There is no shortage of food in this country; we have amazing local items around the edges of the store, local bakers, small butchers and of course the 8000-plus local breweries across the country. These fresh and local commodities support farmers and small producers versus giving food manufacturers the opportunity to restock the massive cold storage units around the country with food engineered to survive for a few years in hibernation.
This is not an indictment of the part of our industry for which I am also a part, but rather a wake-up call that we can’t be reliant on them only in a time of need or when you are too busy to care about what you eat. We definitely should not be fighting over or hoarding TV dinners and macaroni and cheese in a box.
What are my plans?
- Fine tuning my fresh packed pickles
- Keeping my Poolish starter alive and healthy for bread and pizza
- Refining my charcuterie, sausage making and butchery skills
- Make demi-glace the old school way
- Channeling my inner Italian grandmother to make hand-made pasta
- Training my palate to differentiate between the New World and Traditional hop varieties
- Going on an interactive global culinary tour without leaving our house. I bet there are a few ethnic restaurants that I have not yet had that have delivery or I can pick up
If you want to exchange some recipes, feel free to reach out. Keep safe.