The James Beard Foundation yesterday launched a new webinar series offering chefs, restaurateurs and industry professionals relief and advocacy advice in response to the coronavirus emergency in the US.
This first webinar, began with an introduction from James Beard's CEO, Clare Reichenbach, and while experiencing some audio problems, was a good first chance for a few thousand online chefs and industry professionals to feel a sense of unity, purpose and direction.
In an industry that employs 16-17% of the total US workforce, hundreds of thousands of restaurants across the country are in a state of enforced, voluntary or partial closure as chefs and restaurateurs are left to manage the rights of their employees as well as their business health.
In this first edition, a trio of Chicago chefs was invited to share their tools, tactics and early responses in eliciting action at a state level, focusing on employee welfare, how to maintain business health and get them back on their feet afterwards.
Each of the chefs talked about the importance of crafting a unified message and unifying, consolidating and organising as a chef collective to make their official ask clear and directed at the right people.
An advocacy professional was also invited to talk about legal proceedings and take questions from the few thousand assembled online audience.
The James Beard Foundation online resources for chefs
The foundation will be keeping restaurants and the industry up to date with news and developments over the coming weeks with more webinars, including one with World Central Kitchen, plus a library of online resources including a "Tool Kit" for chefs around the country, an online survey and information on locally grown relief efforts will all be available on the website.