Our lives have changed in many ways over the last few months—and an important one is how we approach food. Below are a few of the ways making (and ordering it) has changed, many of which are likely here to stay:
“Your Table is Ready…”
If you’re an avid restaurant goer, you’ve probably heard the words “fully committed” once or twice, or seen availability at places like Carbone on Resy — at the early bird hour of 5pm. The silver lining moment for hot spot die hards is these “impossible” hot spots are now coming straight to you at home. Craving Carbone’s famous spicy rigatoni? They now offer delivery and pickup. If you’re not in New York, you can try to make this yourself at home and one of my favorite renditions can be found here.
If you’ve ever googled “How to get into Rao’s” — you’re not alone. While the newer locations in Las Vegas and Hollywood are accessible, the original in Harlem, NY is only available to those who have a standing table. While much of the allure is the experience itself, you can now enjoy a taste of NYC Rao’s in the comfort of your home. But, it wouldn’t be Rao’s if there wasn’t a little challenge. To order, you need to send a direct message on Instagram. There is also no menu to choose from, and all orders consist of the same prefix meal: meatballs, penne marinara, lemon chicken, and salad, for $80, and it’s cash only.
“I’ll Take that Gimlet to Go”
Stressful times cause people to drink more than they do usually, and the recent months are (100) proof of that. According to Nielsen, “U.S. sales of alcoholic beverages rose 55% in the week ending March 21” It comes as no surprise that boredom can contribute to ones desire to have a glass of wine or create a cocktail at home. But now, people are even sourcing their libations through takeout. Bloomberg Businessweek, notes that “most restaurants try to make alcohol sales account for around 30 percent of their revenue” That’s a big chunk of their income wiped out by covid and another way restaurants all over the country are trying to stay afloat is through their offering of take out cocktails. Another newer option are upstart brands offering “cocktail boxes’ like Cocktail Courier — who create boxes with liquors and mixers you need to be your own at home mixologist.
Home Cooks On the Rise…
If you’re not taking advantage of the increase in delivery and takeout options, odds are you’ve been cooking more. People are finding comfort in the simple act of creating and experimenting in the kitchen even if they never considered themselves a cook. Food has been a source of comfort but what’s more is that the act of making it has also provided many with an activity to pass the time or share an experience with those they’re quarantining with. While I’ve read countless articles on how to work with what you’ve got on hand, people can’t dine out, allowing them to splurge more on groceries. According to the Coresight Research U.S. Online Grocery Survey 2020, grocery sales “stand to surge about 40% this year”.
From the Docks to Your Doorstep…
Just as restaurants are pivoting their businesses in unexpected ways to make up for lost income, the restaurant suppliers are doing the same. Beyond looking to your local supermarket for groceries there are a number of wholesalers (many of whom supplied the aforementioned “hotspots” with everything from arugula to arctic char to Wagyu and all meats/fish/proteins in between. Fulton fish market, Chefs Warehouse, Baldor are all great examples of high quality industry suppliers that for the first time ever are delivering to residential customers.
While the last few months have proved challenging, it’s also meant more family time and home cooked meals, better quality ingredients available, and exciting new take out restaurants and offerings. All that to say, I’m really looking forward to going to my favorite restaurant again, and breaking bread with friends.