Restaurants are slowly starting to reopen, adjusting and adapting to the new normal, such as social distancing, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But for the last two months, restaurants all over Thailand had to suddenly shut their front of house and shift focus on keeping their businesses running without leaving anyone behind. This included changing menus, offering online delivery and takeout orders, preparing meals for those in need, and creating a chef’s table experience for at-home dining.
Restaurants also considered their teams beyond their walls. They had not forgotten the farmers and producers who supply them their excellent ingredients. Fruits and vegetables keep growing and need tending, even if the demand for their products dwindled due to the COVID-19 situation.
So, as we look forward to restaurants opening to full service again, let us look now at what chefs and restaurants have been doing to support their brothers and sisters in the food supply chain, and their communities.
Modern Greek restaurant Aesop’s (MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2020) has not only been delivering their signature slow-cooked lamb shoulder, gyros, and rice bowls for delicious dining during the lockdown. The restaurant has not forgotten the frontline workers fighting COVID-19, such as doctors and hospital staff. With “Eat It Forward Fridays”, for every order on Fridays, Aesop’s will deliver a free healthy Greek meal to the staff at Ramathibodi Hospital.
Support this initiative at www.aesopsbangkok.com
During this crisis, Chef Chalee Kader of 100 Mahaseth (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2020), along with other fellow chefs and restaurants, established the “100 Smile Meals” initiative to share meals with doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who are working hard to keep us safe during this crisis, as well as with those in our communities directly impacted by this crisis. They are asking the public for donations to distribute 50-baht meal boxes (minimum five boxes for 250 baht). Volunteer groups will then distribute these meals among various communities and hospitals. So far, over 100 boxes have been sent out each day. This project not only raises spirits, but it also helps support farmers, suppliers, and vendors through this difficult time.
To contribute to 100 Smile Meals, contact Line: @100mahaseth
One of the first fine dining restaurants prepared for the lockdown measures was Bo.Ian (One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2020), led by Chefs Duangporn “Bo” Songvisava and Dylan Jones. They adapted their menu for fine dining in the restaurant to Thai meals for home delivery from Bo.lan and Err (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2020). Even with all the deliveries, they still promote zero waste management, offering reusable bento boxes that can be picked up for future orders. Their endeavours include supporting local farmers as well. Bo.lan Grocer features produce and ingredients from Thai farmers. Bo.lan CSA Box and Bo.lan Essential Box deliver rice, fruits, vegetables, spices and more to stock your pantry. Bo.lan in Residence satisfies stomachs with a bento of delicious dishes featuring the freshest sustainable ingredients from local Thai farmers. And the latest addition is Bo.lan Supplies, frozen, ready-to-eat meals made from fresh, organic ingredients. And don’t forget to catch Chef Bo on Facebook Live, showing us how to support local Thai farmers.
Find out more at www.facebook.com/BolanBangkok
“Every order doesn’t just support us; it also supports local fishermen and farmers too.” After closing their front-of-house operations, Chefs Napol “Joe” Jantraget and Saki Hoshino at 80/20 (One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2020) quickly turned their fine dining menu into 80/20-style Thai food for delivery. Of course, the food might look a little different, but what hasn’t changed is the 80/20 commitment to their local Thai sources affected by COVID-19. So they changed their menus to include different sets -- one dedicated to helping farmers, and another for helping fishermen. There is also more diversity, with single dish menus for those dining alone, sharing menus, noodle menus that serve 20 sets a day, and the not-to-be-missed dessert menu from Chef Saki, which comes with a warning that these items run out quickly.
For more information or reservations, visit www.facebook.com/8020bkk
Chef Supaksorn “Ice” Jongsiri from Sorn (Two MICHELIN Stars, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2020) joined fellow chefs to support their suppliers, especially small local farms, with #MarketFullBox or “Thong Lo Farmers Market”. This project aims to help increase exposure for these agricultural products among restaurants and consumers. Sorn and sister shop Baan Ice sell products on behalf of farmers, including eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, jams, and more. They make no profit from sales, charging only transportation and product costs. Not only that, they’ve set up kiosks to distribute free food and water to delivery staff who are working so hard during this time as well.
If you’re interested in supporting local Thai agriculture, find out more or make a purchase by calling 09 2546 2099.
Hotels have been hit especially hard, but The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is still lending a helping hand to those in need by collaborating with the Thai Red Cross Society. For two months starting 1 May, every chef from every restaurant at the hotel will be taking turns to prepare 700 meals every day for the Thai Red Cross. Chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier, head chef at Le Normandie (Two MICHELIN Stars, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2020) is definitely participating. This two-month project provides 700 meals for medical staff who are working tirelessly to ensure our safety. Now they can enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner made with loving care by the chefs.
Please note: These are only a few of the many wonderful initiatives and projects that have been undertaken by the Thai restaurant sector to assist in overcoming the COVID-19 crisis.
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