On Fine Dining’s New Directions and Reserving Patio Tables During Snowstorms

The Intelligence Brief is our weekly compendium of food and drink news sourced from outlets all over the world, including right here at home.

As we come through another holiday long weekend, British Columbians will be waiting to see the effects of family gatherings on the provincial Covid-19 rate. Last Thursday, officials urged caution around large gatherings as the province recorded another 119 new cases of Covid-19. With a history of case spikes after long weekends, only time will tell how the past 4 days will impact our collective efforts to beat this thing. In the meantime, we continue to track how the food and drinks industry is faring through the pandemic…

Last week came with news that three Ontario hotspots, namely Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, would be shutting down indoor dining again after experiencing sharp spikes in cases.

While early Covid-19 restrictions in the province seem to have benefited some restaurants in the suburbs, businesses that have stayed afloat with outdoor seating options – regardless of location – will be confronted with new challenges as the weather changes in the coming weeks and months.

Pat Nourse writes an essay on the casualization of fine dining and the future of the high end hospitality experience:

The upper echelons of fine dining have long been reliant on customers with access to expense accounts and those willing to travel the extra mile and spend the extra dollar to get something special. But what does that mean for the business when a working lunch now means getting up from a Zoom with the team to make a snack in the kitchen, when the extra mile might be off limits and the extra dollar just isn’t there? How can you bank on a business founded on exclusivity in an age where the conversation is focused on inclusivity? Could this be the dawn of fine eating rather than fine dining?

In a bid to win the upcoming election, both the provincial NDP and Liberal parties have promised to put a cap on food delivery fees.

The city of Chicago is considering similar caps on third-party food delivery fees as restaurants continue to struggle to stay afloat.

After reports show a sharp increase in food insecurity since the start of the pandemic, the federal government has committed $100 million in aid to the country’s food banks.

One local physician explains why she believes that restaurant survival will depend more on innovation than alcohol sales: CTV reports.

The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner on the recent re-opening of indoor dining in New York and the uncertainty of the city’s path to recovery.

Similarly, the re-opening of indoor dining in NYC has forced restaurant workers to choose between their physical health and their financial stability.

“With continually high unemployment numbers for service industry workers, many feel they have no choice but to go back. Once again, waiters, bussers, and bartenders are on the front lines of exposure, many of them working without employer-provided health care.”

VinePair explains how some west coast wineries are making use of huge amounts of grapes tainted with smoke due to the extensive wildfires.

New York bartender and author John DeBary asks some pointed questions of the cocktail industry and argues for some longer overdue change:

“Now that the bar world has effectively come to a screeching halt, might this be an appropriate moment to examine whom exactly that world spins for? The bar industry follows a familiar pattern: Low-wage workers on the front line generate revenue, and that wealth flows upward, accumulating into fewer and fewer hands. Thirteen percent of tipped workers live in poverty, as opposed to 6 percent of non-tipped workers. People of color working in the restaurant industry are paid, on average, 56 percent less than their equally qualified white counterparts; female servers are paid 12 percent less than male servers, regardless of race; and anti-Blackness and discrimination against immigrants are rampant.”

Seeing as we could all use a bit of extra comfort these days, check out Scout’s guide to the city’s best comfort foods, which now includes this dozen freshly shucked oysters.

Speaking of oysters, take a peek inside Chinatown’s Shuck Shuck which is expected to officially open to the public this Friday.

This week in food and podcasts, Eater’s Digest shares what it’s like to dine inside a high end New York restaurant in the middle of a global pandemic.

In response to recent protests across the US, Yelp has now introduced a new feature on their platform where consumers can flag businesses accused of racism.

The Bon Appetit Test Kitchen has lost yet another one of its stars after Claire Saffitz announced last week that she plans to part ways with the company.

How is it that Facebook literally took three years to ban QAnon, but somehow quickly found the time to flag this pile of onions as “too sexy”?

Finally, in more heartening news, a number of local chefs will come together on October 27th in a fundraiser for the Vancouver Food and Beverage Community Relief Fund.

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