Portugal - Thoughts by Paulo Amado

Bailliage Portugal
Lisbon, July 30, 2020

What comes next?
" The value of gastronomy is fundamental "

Today, the current global pandemic is still impacting countries but at different levels. It will probably be so in the coming months, until a vaccine comes out.

Some countries have not yet closed their restaurants, others are keeping them closed, some have already opened again.

We know that restaurant closures have had a direct impact on their business both for owners and employees. Let alone for their suppliers and the wider economy.

The value of gastronomy is fundamental. It is part of our culture which, at this time, it is important to remember.

It all starts in the “territory”. Before the combination that the French word “terroir” advocates, I point out geography as the basic foundation. Do not neglect the economic, social and historical environment to say that it is a reconciliation of factors. All in the hands of the producer, the second stronghold in the gastronomy sector, i.e. the artisan in the broadest possible sense of the classification who is at the beginning of the process.

Then we have the product. A consequence or a fundamental act of the producer. A product of nature or work, the great passion of restaurateurs and chefs is creating ‘His Excellency the Product’.

We have the transformation in which skill and technique reign. There may be some transformation before reaching the craftsman, the chef, or arrives as it came from nature.

The chef, with his culinary craftsmanship, relying on technical knowledge, utensils and technology, confers his gifted touch on the raw materials. Next comes the restaurant sector. The bridge from the work of the kitchen, through the chef to an environment managed by professionals providing service and hospitality, for the customer who chooses to be at the table.

In this list, we do not emphasise the entire value chain in an exhaustive way, nor do we emphasise the role of the countless agents that are part of the value chain. Look at the panoply of suppliers needed to have a restaurant operating, from when it was born as an architectural and construction project until it was ready so that a client could sit down.

This is the challenge we are facing. Not knowing what comes next. How to support the restaurant sector, our joyful and preferred activity that in your country may be closed or open, with some difficulties that we guess are common?

To support our restaurant professionals, if establishments are open, attend in compliance with the regulations and ensure protective measures are in place. Anyway, always act with the proper civic behaviour to respect your health and that of others. In my country, everyone has to wear a mask to circulate inside the restaurant and can only remove it when you sit down ready to enjoy the food and drink on offer.

But if establishments are closed as a result of an ongoing lockdown, do whatever you can to support them anyway. For instance, through the social networks or on a restaurant's website, leave messages remembering memorable moments you have experienced before in that place.

Some restaurants have vouchers or take away or delivery service. Take the opportunity to celebrate gastronomy at home, as we did this year on World Chaîne Day.

Another possibility is to understand what your restaurant is offering. Being enterprising some have created products and menus available via both online and offline means.

Support your local restaurants. You don't know what's coming but you know what to do!

Paulo Amado

Photo at top: (c) EG | Luis Ferraz

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