On Fixing an Almost Broken Industry and Ramping Up for the Next Reopening Phase

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

Friday came up with news that new cases of Covid-19 had dropped below 200. The province also announced that 72% of adults in the province had received their first shot of the vaccine. Rates of vaccination are promising as step two of the province’s reopening plan (tentatively set to begin on June 15th) is contingent upon 65% of the 18+ population having received a first dose. As we continue to see declining Covid-19 cases province-wide and increasing rates of vaccination, we cover how the food and beverage industry is fairing with reopening on the horizon…

First up, Eater reflects on what changes restaurants have actually made in the wake of a year when many have named the numerous harms of the industry and called on it to do better:

“A year after these calls for justice, there is proof that change is possible. But it took a pandemic, a national call for racial equity, and hundreds of restaurant workers speaking out about the abuses they have faced just for a handful of restaurants to even attempt to address these issues. If that’s what needs to happen for some restaurants to give workers diversity, equity, and inclusion training and slightly higher wages, what will it take for systemic, lasting change to happen?”

Wage disparity appears to be one of those lessons that didn’t quite stick as many workers – particularly women – aren’t returning to the industry due to ongoing poor wages and working conditions:

“The reason servers and cooks and dishwashers are leaving restaurants en masse, the One Fair Wage report It’s a Wage Shortage, Not a Worker Shortage found, isn’t because they’re being paid to sit on the couch: It’s because restaurant jobs by and large offer dismal wages and terrible working conditions, especially for women. In online and phone surveys conducted from last fall to this month, more than half of restaurant workers said they are strongly considering leaving the industry, with 76 percent saying the reason for that decision is low wages, One Fair Wage researchers found.”

A glimpse into the future: in the US, where the CDC has lifted masks requirements, restaurants have been left to decide on and enforce their own rules. Something to consider as BC moves towards step three of reopening where mask-wearing will move from a requirement to a recommendation.

Similarly, restaurant and grocery store employees in the US are frustrated with the CDC’s decision to discontinue its mask mandate, leaving many workers at risk and dependent on an honour system among customers.

Grub Street’s Jacqueline Raposo reflects on what the pandemic has taught chefs about accessibility and whether these lessons will stick with a return to indoor dining:

“Societal misconceptions create an ableist narrative that ill and disabled people neither desire nor can afford delicious restaurant food. The former doesn’t hold water: You don’t have to be able-bodied to appreciate cassoulet and cocktails from M. Wells or cacio e pepe polenta from Hearth. Moreso, if you can envision the particular satisfaction of a Minetta Tavern Black Label burger after having the flu, then

Not making the cut: upscale, Bay area meat company Belcampo has come under fire for deceptive sourcing practices after an ex-employee revealed that the company wasn’t always selling their own products as advertised.

And while Belcampo originally asserted the meat sourcing issue was an “isolated incident” more employees have since come forward to dispute the claim.

Talk about chutzpah! Celebrity chef Nick Liberato had the audacity to rip off iconic imagery and design from New York’s famous Russ and Daughters’ and pawn it off as his own in his soon-to-open New Jersey deli.

A better way: Mother Jones explores if a new model for restaurants may be the key to more sustainable and equitable business practices.

The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner interviews author Dr. Jessica B. Harris, whose book “High on the Hog” was the inspiration for the recent four-part Netflix series of the same name.

From virtual pop-up foodie markets to backyard cookouts, the Georgia Straight has a roundup of delectable events to look forward to in the coming weeks.

Take a look inside Oh Carolina, the new project from the Gooseneck gang (see also Wildebeest, Bufala, Lucky Taco and Bells & Whistles).

A look at how local restaurants are having to adjust (again) as the industry begins to emerge from a year of shutdowns, slowdowns and pivots.

And finally, heavy hearts and anticipation: Check out the trailer for this new film about the life and work of Anthony Bourdain.

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