Ingredients – recent & present challenges

The current lockdown and restrictions means that many of us are dependent on deliveries from supermarkets and other local suppliers responding to the opportunity presented.

I have been amazed at how many small food businesses have kept operating through the situation! All of the food markets essentially shutdown and waited it out before reopening when permitted. The cafes, restaurants essentially shutdown and furloughed people as needed. The chains also shutdown but the major supermarkets and food suppliers kept going expanding delivery capabilities and those smaller businesses tried to do the same.

Many small food businesses created a food box scheme for local clients, some restaurants kept the kitchens going by cooking food for the local community, especially where many were shielding. My father was one of those who has stayed at home for over 12 weeks, reliant on a local community hub group that took on the responsibility to get food for those who could not themselves. In villages, like the one I live in, a community groups was started to do the same, get food, deliver it, collect prescriptions and other routine daily tasks we took for granted!

This has managed the process for many but there were initial teething troubles, such as not being able to book a deliver from any supermarket in the first six weeks or so of lockdown. However, the situation changed over time and it is generally a lot better than it was, getting delivery slots seems easier and the click and collect option is a good flexible alternative.

The local businesses that have kept going have done a good job in managing the social distancing measures in-spite of the confusing statements from government and local authorities. Whilst I have not worked significantly during the main lockdown period I have helped where I could with neighbours. There was no opportunity to doing any paid cooking work so I have focused on what is next for my business.

As we have been able to come out of lockdown in limited ways I have found it hard to shop online. I prefer to see the produce and check it for my needs. This is obviously not something that can be done with every item in a shop and I do wonder about the cleanliness of many people, even with a mask and possibly gloves on. I am getting almost everything by delivery. Each and every item is wiped in a mild solution of bleach and hot water, nets of fruit etc. are washed under running water! So far so good!

The work that I have done is small by comparison to the last event I catered for in March. Several celebration dinners for couples at home! These were lovely to do and to see the excitement on the faces when I delivered the food was priceless!

I can get most of what I need from my local suppliers – fresh and high quality meat and fish, vegetables and fruit, dairy too! The spices and other dry or shelf products such as flour, dried herbs and spices, oils, sauces and so on have to be order online. These either come from a well known supermarket or other online shops. So far apart from shortages early on in the lockdown especially for flour, as most of the country seemed to be enthusiastic to make their own bread and the trend was sourdough. I put my hand up to that as well!

I am worried that we are going to find challenges in sourcing some of these products, especially those that come from Europe or further afield! The next few months may proved to be just as challenging even as we come out of lockdown, the hotels, restaurants etc. will start to put pressures on the wider supply chain and I expect there will be limited stocks, with a higher price! This is going to challenge the opening up of the economy and it is likely that government will be borrowing more cash to keep jobs and industries working.

I am building my plan for where my food business goes next. This website is apart of that plan. More to follow over the next few weeks!

Thanks for reading.

I am an Artisan Chef, Food Writer and Teacher, running a catering business for ten years, teaching cookery at a number of schools, demonstrating at food festivals, including my own! Now building a cookery school on the Isle of Wight offering in person day courses and online courses.