Ferran Adrià: How Chefs Should Respond to The Coronavirus Crisis

27 March, 2020

Photo: Official le web photos | Finedininglovers artwork

In the midst of the discussion about the economic hit of the necessary fight against coronavirus, Adrià notes: “It is the first time in the history of gastronomic restaurants, let’s say in the last 220 years, that there are no restaurants open around us. It already seems all so shocking to me. When this situation is over, the value of the restaurant will be accentuated and everybody will have realized how nice it is to go to dinner. I’m optimistic.”
 
He’s positive but above all realistic. "If we already know that there will be no Euro Cup in June or the Olympic Games in July, it could be expected that some restaurants may open again in July if the pandemic will be under control. But some may only manage to do it in September, others next year, who knows?”
 
He says that “returning to normality” will not only have to do with removing the ‘state of emergency’ but if businesses have resisted the economic turmoil and “reset their business models” rather than simply “reinvent themselves”. 

"Things will not be as easy as just opening again,” he explains, assuming that spending, consumer habits and the rhythms of people will be affected at least in the beginning. “What we cannot do is project the following months using the dynamics we were used to as a reference: clients traveling in summer, consumption increases during holidays at the end of the year… everything will change. Everyone must analyse the nature of their business and plan scenarios including government aid, credits, etc.”

Is there room for creativity during this crisis? Adrià, who has lived and breathed a hardcore creative ideology throughout his career, thinks not. “The first thing is to business manage,” he says, “right now it is not a priority to think about being creative. At the beginning it won’t be essential to invent a new dish, the first thing will be to serve ‘a dish’. As time passes, we’ll have to restart and adapt reference models from other economic activities. What is relevant from now on will be to understand once and for all that, our role as chefs is not just about ‘creating’. You need to know how to produce proper market research, to produce a proper strategy, how to monitor revenue and expenses, to assure a security fund. Ask yourself: ‘Who are you as a business? What do you want to be? And how do you want to do it?’ That is the kind of creativity we need right now."
 
Adrià is aware that his vision is different because he does not currently own a restaurant, and he says he would probably “be seeing a lot more cloudy” if he was responsible for his own restaurant right now. He is concerned about his friends and colleagues who are struggling. He wonders what is going to happen to the gastronomic offering that has been multiplying in Spain alongside tourism for the last 30 years. The uncertain scenario of the world he helped so much to promote worries him. But he knows that if “all this” is of any use, it will be that each person in this crisis starts to analyse their business mission. His own mission is clear: raise awareness of how essential it is to understand that good business management right now is the key to the future of the dining industry. 

Dominique Crenn

Dominique Crenn: "We Need Help."

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