When a global pandemic disrupted fine dining in unimaginable ways, chefs around the world got creative, pivoted, created makeaways, embraced delivery and above all connected with their communities.
Here's a round-up of some of the most memorable, creative and inspiring moments that came out of one of the most turbulent times in the industry's history.
1. René Redzepi brought back the Noma burger at a new restaurant, POPL, after a hugely successful summer season when the famous New Nordic restaurant welcomed drop-in customers for wine and burgers.
Image: Noma / Instagram
2. Chef Grant Achatz and his long-term business partner Nick Kokonas, from three-Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago, were among the first to pivot to takeout. Kicking out sell-out pre-bake beef Wellingtons, Robuchon mashed potatoes, gravy, horseradish crème fraîche, and creme brûlée desserts in tin-foil boxes, they made comfort food king.
Image: Courtesy of Grant Achatz
3. "If the 2020 crisis has taught us anything, it has been the reunion with the first time, the anxiety with which we yearn to return to what we did before. Mugaritz is a living being that regenerates itself every year, keeping its identity alive, but without being the same, offering a new version of itself: every year a new proposal, a new glance,” said Andoni Aduriz from Mugaritz.
After months of creative development, the Basque country restaurant re-opened with a menu built around the idea of 'first times'.
See the Mugaritz menu 2021.
Image: Courtesty of Mugartiz
4. Michelin-starred chef Wylie Dufresne could be found making sell-out New York-style pizzas at Breads Bakery's, a weekly pop-up near New York's Union Square, after having become obsessed with perfecting pizzas during lockdown.
Image: Ashley Solter
5. Team Norway won Bocuse d'Or Europe gold for their platter and plate combination in October 2020, starring quail and catfish respectively.
Image: The Quail Platter/Courtesy of Bocuse d'Or
6. Don Julio by Pablo Jesus Rivero, an informal meat-centric restaurant in Argentina's Buenos Aires, was named the best restaurant in Latin America 2020 by Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.
7. While chef Sat Bains' usual ten-course tasting menu was off the table at his eponymous Nottingham restaurant, he and his team perfected samosas with his 72-year-old mother instead naming the new spin off, #Mommabains.
Image: Courtesy of Sat Bains
8.Chef Mauro Colagreco, the number one chef on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, completely reimagined the menu at his Mirazur restaurant in Menton, France, with a ‘Lunar Menu’ based on the cycles of the moon and its effect on the plants in his garden.
9. After eight months of lockdown, Copenhagen’s most creative restaurant, Alchemist, opened its doors in May 2021, reimagined as Alchemist Reloaded, with an introspective live music performance, a surreal pink disco experience and edible impressions that include ant-cheese, pig’s blood and raw jellyfish.
Image: Courtesy of Alchemist
In May 2021, the restaurant took a total u-turn, announcing it would be re-opening with an entirely plant-based menu.
11. After almost three months of closure, Massimo Bottura's three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria Francescana, in Modena, Italy, reopened on 2 June with a new menu entitled 'With a Little Help From My Friends', inspired by The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Image: Courtesy of Francescana Osteria
12. Chef Ana Roš and her international team at two-Michelin-starred Hiša Franko in Slovenia connected with their local community and farmers to transform local raw materials into marketable food products, like turning milk into ice cream, during lockdown.
Image: Courtesy of Ana Ros
13. Makeaways and takeaways defined an era of fine dining. Massimo Bottura’s Franceschetta 58 in Modena, Italy, was one of many restaurants to offer novel meal kits complete with colourful illustrations depicting exactly how the dishes should look, allowing fans to have fun at home.