What happened in 2020 stays in 2020: a TSC round-up

The  Staff Canteen

If we could wind back the clocks to 31st December 2019, who could have predicted 2020?

We're guessing not you. Definitely not us.

In the year which saw droves of restaurants closing their doors forever, early on, others found themselves unsure whether they would be able to pay their staff, or worse still, chose not to.

No names named but those who didn't were called out by Richard Corrigan, who said  that "all the people in our industry that are made to look like fucking shining Joan of Arcs were the quickest bastards to fire every member of their team."

In the news 

Lo and behold, the furlough scheme was introduced (and then extended, and extended again, and as it stands will continue until April 2021) as were various grants, loans and support packages, bringing some much-needed respite for the industry, but by most accounts, not enough to sustain them.

Then came the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, followed by the tier restriction system, another lockdown, then more restrictions with a brand new Tier in queue

But 2020 was also a year of great acts of generosity, with businesses working throughout to keep their teams and suppliers in work and food on the table for the country's key workers

@ TSC

Here at The Staff Canteen, our editor Cara Houchen kept our spirits high by hosting a Graham Norton-style tipsy series, the Lockdown Lock-in Live - with appearances from Sat Bains, Marcus Wareing, Angela Hartnett and Jason Atherton, Tom Kerridge, Paul Ainsworth, James Martin, Richard Corrigan, Nigel Haworth and the entire GBM banquet gang.

We also hosted a series of live panel discussions about how to secure financial support, how to reopen restaurants safely, what the world of food might look like when this is all over and whether we should be welcoming chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef onto the UK market. 

This year more than ever, we felt it important to feature discussions about mental health in hospitality. Thus, we held a series of talks in collaboration with The Burnt Chef Project, welcoming Adam Simmonds, Alice BowyerLuke Holder, Peter Tofis and Mark Reynolds to talk about their experiences and hear their tips of how to nurture mental wellbeing at work.

But it hasn't all been doom, gloom and serious chat at The Staff Canteen this year. In 2020, we held our first ever awards to celebrate the wonderful folk in the UK hospitality industry, letting our audience decide who was most worthy of commendation - with categories reflectiing the times, from Chef of the Year and One to Watch to Sustainable and Seasonal dish and Lockdown Community Hero. 

And to keep things lively, we put out a podcast every single week and tried to find the most outrageously entertaining chefs for your enjoyment - among them were Graham Garrett, the Barrie Brothers, Glynn Purnell and Daniel Clifford (twice).

But you can count as well as we can - for access to all 52 podcasts, visit our Spotify, Soundcloud or YouTube page. And if you can't be bothered with the full list, listen to our 2020 end of year special.

On TV

Because many of us were stuck at home staring at screens instead of doing what we know best, it was fortuitous that 2020 was such a good year for televised chef competitions

Great British Menu had the best ratings on record this year, and though the champions didn't get to bask in their glory at work, this might be the only year chefs actually got to watch themselves taking part in the competition. 

Watching MasterChef: The Professionals and the calibre of the competition this year - and getting sidetracked by Internet fury, as 2020 wouldn't give up its attempts at bringing us down - showed us that even in the toughest of climates, great chefs still have a raison d'etre. 

Watching chefs cook for key workers on the Great British Menu Christmas special was like a gift to hospitality - and the brilliant Lisa Goodwin-Allen, whose ability to impress has not waivered one bit in the ten years since she first won the competition - brought home the reality that beyond what we do for a living, people who have held society together when it was on its knees deserve love, respect and reward in edible form. 

Looking ahead 

In some respects, 2020 has been divisive: a stark reminder of England's North-South tensions and unequal resource distribution, but also one in which contesting restrictions placed on hospitality became a matter of contention.

But all in all, this year has been a strong unifying force for the industry, one which may have laid the groundwork for a UK hospitality minister, one which saw acts of generosity towards local communities and support from them in the form of hampersfinish at home and DIY kits, vouchers and an eagerness to return to restaurants given the first chance

More than anything, we look forward to seeing you all again, in the flesh, in 2021. 

Happy new year everyone, we love you!

In these challenging times…

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 31st December 2020

What happened in 2020 stays in 2020: a TSC round-up