There’s no doubt that this current period of time during the coronavirus outbreak is one of the strangest in recent history. The streets are bare, everything has been cancelled, and a number of industries are beginning to fall apart right in front of our very eyes. However, something about awful situations like this also seems to bring out the best in human nature. Aside from news about the virus, the past few weeks have also seen some of the most heart-warming stories of acts of human kindness that we can remember.
There’s no doubt that the restaurant industry is one of those that has suffered the most over the past few weeks, with numerous spots all over London and the UK being forced to temporarily close since the government advised members of the public to avoid public spaces. However, the food industry has an incredibly strong and supportive of network people behind it, who you can be sure will come together during times of need - one of the many reasons that we’re hugely proud to be a part of it. And true to form, people in the industry have been doing some pretty remarkable things so far during the Covid-19 pandemic, demonstrating huge amounts of generosity, kindness and warmth, even when their own jobs and businesses are in doubt.
With so many nice things being done at the moment in the food industry, and with everything moving at such a pace online and on social media, we thought we’d put together a list below of some of the amazing things being done. So whether you’re a struggling restaurant trying to set up a take-away offering, a foodie stuck at home wanting to learn some new cookery skills, or simply someone struggling to find basic supplies in your local shops, there will be something here to put a smile on your face.
Cocktail bars and bartenders hosting social media masterclasses
Just because we're all stuck inside doesn't mean that we don't still occasionally want to add a touch of class to our evenings with a cocktail or three. A few bars have recognised this and are giving free tips, tricks and social media masterclasses on how to make amazing cocktails at home. One of these is 1940s-inspired Soho bar Cahoots, which is launching a brand new social media series on 4 April entitled Cocktails from The Captain’s Larder, where you will be taught how to create some of the bar's brilliant cocktails. Meanwhile, cocktail maestro Mr Lyan gave tips on how to make a DIY martini on his Instagram page last week.
Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski offering Instagram cookery classes
With so much time spent at home for most people at the moment, it’s the perfect opportunity to improve your home cooking skills and learn a few new recipes, and who better to teach you them than one of the 'Fab Five'. Antoni from Netflix's Queer Eye is doing his own Instagram TV series of him cooking in quarantine, and is offering tips on how to cook some amazing meals while you're trapped at home. The first episode saw Antoni teaching his followers how to make a 'keep calm-lette' omlette - okay, we're not sure about the pun but we love the idea.
If you needed any further cooking inspiration, some of the world’s greatest chefs have also taken the time to upload tips, recipes and even videos on Instagram to help you out. Three Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura has been posting videos on his Instagram including a recipe for a vegetable Thai curry, while Great British Menu star Ellis Barrie has shown fans how to cook the perfect broccoli. Whether you’re a keen home cook or someone wanting to learn, be sure to take advantage of this great content.
By Chloe restaurant group providing free meals to school children
Now that all schools have been closed indefinitely, a number of children who would normally be entitled to a free lunch at school, are now at home needing feeding. So, to help out, Quoot restaurant group, which includes London restaurants By Chloe and Dominique Ansel Bakery, are offering free lunchboxes to any kids who would normally be entitled to a free school meal. The boxes contain a sandwich, a drink and a snack, and can be picked up from 12 participating restaurants in London, once relevant benefits documentation has been shown.
Lina stores raising money to support axed hospitality workers
The coronavirus outbreak has sadly led to a number of people working in the hospitality industry being made redundant. However, London pasta hotspot Lina Stores is trying to help those who are now unemployed. It has created a donation page to support these workers, and has already smashed its initial target, having now raised over £20,000. An extra bonus is that if you choose to donate £20 or more, you'll get a 20% off voucher to eat at either of the Lina Stores restaurants when they reopen.
The Landesberg Family delivering care packages to those in need
There are a huge number of different groups of people in need at this difficult time, from the elderly to single parents, and The Landesberg Family, who are behind restaurants such as AOK Kitchen, have stepped in to help out. They have set up something called the Corona Care Challenge which is fundrasing money so that they can create care packages full of non-perishable goods and household essentials, and deliver them to these people in need. Their Go Fund Me page has already raised a whopping £35,000!
Food Photographers offering services for free
One way that a lot of restaurants are dealing with the corona crisis is by offering a delivery service. However, with most restaurants having to rush to put together a deliverable menu along with photos and a campaign, a number of London’s food photographers have come to the rescue. A few highly regarded creatives including Nic Crilly-Hargrave and Lateef Okunnu have generously offered their photography services up for free to restaurants in need of a quick set of photographs to publicise any last-minute campaigns. In effect, these people are offering to work for free to help our struggling industry.
Natoora has made its food delivery app available to all Londoners
Natoora is probably best known for its amazing shops full of wonderful fruit. However, it also has a delivery app which allows people to order amazing produce straight to their doors. Up until now the delivery service had only been available to people in the hospitality industry, but due to supermarket delivery slots now becoming scarcer and scarcer, Natoora has opened up the app to everyone in London. This means that people who have been struggling to find fresh fruit and veg will now have another option.
Bread Ahead doing live baking tutorials on Instagram
In a similar vein to chefs offering cookery tips, London bakery Bread Ahead has started streaming live baking classes on its Instagram page. Ideal for those of you who have always meant to learn to bake but never quite had the time, the classes so far have covered how to make baked goods such as doughnuts. If you follow the classes carefully this is a prime opportunity for you to become popular with the flatmates during self isolation. This is also a bargain given that Bread Ahead normally charge up to £90 for its baking classes.
Brewery donating £25 to customers' pub or restaurant of choice
In perhaps one of the most generous schemes on our list, London-based brewery Pressure Drop are literally giving away cash to independent restaurants, pubs and retail outlets during this difficult period. Pressure Drop has vowed to donate £25 whenever someone orders 15 or more cans from its wesbite, to any independent of the customer's own choosing. To see one business in the industry supporting others in a manner like this, we think, is pretty special.
Pizza Pilgrims selling frying pan pizza kits on Deliveroo
London pizza gurus Pizza Pilgrims has been delivering its pizzas for quite a while now. However, knowing that people might be rather bored at home and looking for more interesting things to do than simply opening a pizza box and turning on the TV, it’s now offering a frying pan pizza kit on Deliveroo. This means that customers can add one of these kits to an order, and they’ll be provided with everything they need to make two pizzas at home. Now that’s a lot more fun than just another Domino’s.
Pub owner opens pub exclusively to give free food to the homeless
It would be easy to forget that while the majority of us are tucked up safely at home during this scary time, there are still many homeless people out there unprotected. Someone clearly thinking about this is Norwich pub owner Marcus Pearcey who temporarily closed his pub The Butcher Bhoy on Wednesday due to the outbreak. He has now announced that from next week, he is going to open the back entrance of the pub to homeless people who will be able to come in to get free food, hot drinks, blankets, and supplies.
Yard Sale Pizza delivering free pizzas to hospitals
Another pizza chain, another fantastic scheme. London favourite, Yard Sale Pizza has announced that it will be delivering free regular pizzas to three local hospitals: Homerton, Royal London, and Whipps. It, like a number of other restaurants and chains, is also offering discounts to NHS staff.
The Crosstown Collective supporting independents
The founders of Crosstown doughnuts, Millers Bespoke Bakery, and The Estate Dairy have come together to form the Crosstown Collective, who will be delivering boxes full of different items of food from the three different shops to the general public. The idea behind this is that people will be able to order amazing produce, which most big supermarkets are running out of, while at the same time supporting three separate independent businesses. By working collectively, everyone is benefitting. Boxes include items such as rosemary focaccia from Millers, Oatly Barista from The Estate Dairy, and of course some of Crosstown's famous doughnuts.
PAUL opening The Bread Market in Acton
Popular bakery chain PAUL has announced that on Monday 23 March it will opening The Bread Market in Acton which will provide Londoners with loafs of bread fresh from the oven. Aiming to reduce some of the demand on supermarkets for fresh bread, it will be open from 7am-7pm every day. What’s more, PAUL has also announced that at the moment if you purchase any loaf of bread online or in store, it will give a free loaf to a friend or family member of your choice. So no need to panic about bread yet!
Still looking for things to keep you entertained while at home? Check out our guide to the best food podcasts.