“We must walk on all fours to get up again.” That is the view of  a chef in Sicily, among close to two dozen restaurateurs and cooks we asked for their strategies to overcome the biggest crisis in the dining business in recent memory. After weeks of closed doors, customers are slowly starting to come back, and they are entering a different world from the pre-coronavirus era: shorter menus, spaced out tables and a fresh focus on takeaway food. But it's also an opportunity to renew and reinvent, from closer ties to local suppliers to more affordable pricing that might include a dessert or drink on the house.

From Sydney to Copenhagen to Hong Kong, chefs are preparing for the post-pandemic future, and how they think they can make it work.

Smaller Menus
Gone are the days of bible-thick menus because kitchens will need to be quicker, serving dinner guests in multiple sittings to maintain a distance between visitors. Some restaurants may also have to get by with fewer staff in the kitchen at the dining room, so efficiency is key.

Luke Mangan | Luke’s Kitchen, Sydney
“We are changing things to make our customers feel they are safe when they dine with us. Our menus will be smaller to start, our teams will be more efficient, our restaurants will be very different from what they were.”

Neil Perry | Rockpool, Sydney
“Menus will be shorter, opening hours different, we will really have to manage staff. It’s a new world, but I think we will get back to the old one with more sanitation and good sense over the next couple of years.”

Comfort and Safety
Face masks, gloves and disinfectant spray may seem more like objects from a hospital ward, but it's part of the new reality in restaurants, too. Chefs are coming up with ways to make people feel welcome and safe at the same time.

Valentino Cassanelli | Lux Lucis, Forte dei Marmi/Italy
“We have adjusted our layout to have two meters between each table but 80% of our tables are in open air, on the terrace, roof top or by the beach. We will send a menu to all guests at the time of booking so they are able to order in advance. Our menu has been adapted as we become more in touch with our local territory and market.”

Shane Osborn | Arcane, Hong Kong
“You have to adapt to operate. It feels strange and awkward at first but you adjust to it. You need a really safe and comfortable environment. You need to show you are being very proactive just to let customers relax.”

Fatih Tutak | Turk Fatih Tutak, Istanbul
“We will offer small cards indicating that the tables are sanitized and hand gel, allowing the guests to disinfect their hands when seated. We will start to move away from physical materials, there will be no printed menus, we will provide a QR code to ensure that all guests have access to the menus from here. We will be using more simple techniques, handling the food less, but retaining the highest attention to detail. We want to prepare dishes that can be eaten by hand.

Silvena Rowe | Nassau,  Dubai
“We will bounce back. The question is at what speed and how high. I want people to be confident. People are going to pay much more attention to their health.”

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