HOT OFF THE PASS | This week in food news: March 19

Coronavirus panic buying — and the Dark Kitchen trend — hit SA as the local restaurant industry faces a crisis

19 March 2020 - 00:00 By Steve Steinfeld
Local supermarkets have reported that shoppers have been clearing shelves of non-perishables in the wake of the coronavirus, although santising products and long-life foods remain the most popular purchases.
Local supermarkets have reported that shoppers have been clearing shelves of non-perishables in the wake of the coronavirus, although santising products and long-life foods remain the most popular purchases.
Image: 123RF/Kurhan

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In the wake of the coronavirus landing in SA, social media has been flooded with images of people pushing overloaded trolleys and the resulting empty shelves in supermarkets around the country. 

While retailers reported that sanitising products and long-life foods were in high demand, some stores have seen a complete depletion of their fresh produce and other perishables too. (Read more.)

Pick n Pay protects pensioners during Covid-19 outbreak

Fighting other shoppers for the last tin of sweetcorn in a crowded supermarket is a terrifying thought for anyone, but particularly for the elderly who are at most of risk should they catch Covid-19.

That's why Pick n Pay has introduced special shopping hours exclusively for over 65s. Every Wednesday, they'll be opening their stores an hour early, and from 7-8am, only pensioners with a valid ID will be allowed in to stock up on essentials.

Dark kitchen trend hits SA

Regardless of when people shop, it seems more people are planning to eat in while the pandemic plays out. This makes the timing of the latest trend to arrive on the local food scene, the dark kitchen, almost eerily perfect.

A dark kitchen is essentially a delivery-only restaurant that operate solely online or via phone bookings. A host of them have popped up around Jozi and the latest to open (or not open) its doors is aptly named The Dark Kitchen.

The Dark Kitchen is a delivery-only restaurant that's dropping off pizzas to Joburg's Northern suburbs
The Dark Kitchen is a delivery-only restaurant that's dropping off pizzas to Joburg's Northern suburbs
Image: Supplied

Situated in Illovo, it allows you to have the 'world's only nine-slice pizza' delivered to your door. The ninth slice gimmick plays off the fact that most pizzas are cut into eight pieces, but there's always a need for that extra slice.

Local restaurant industry in crisis

For those restaurants who rely on turning tables rather than takeaways, the immediate future is more uncertain. Especially as the government has introduced strict new regulations regarding the operation of those which serve alcohol in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Some upmarket eateries in Joburg and Cape Town have decided to close their doors for the next two weeks  (read more), but not all restaurants can afford to do so. Support them in any way you can.

PS. Remembering chef Michel Roux Senior

Celebrated French chef Michel Roux Senior, considered one of the godfathers of modern restaurant cooking in the UK, passed away last week aged 78.

Late French chef Michel Roux Senior was a legend in the culinary industry.
Late French chef Michel Roux Senior was a legend in the culinary industry.
Image: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Many of our top local chefs and restaurateurs, who had been inspired by the late great Roux, took to social media to pay tribute to him. This includes Markus Fiedler, general manager of Salsify at The Roundhouse in Cape Town, who posted "his legend will live on in all the young chefs he's inspired [during] his incredible career".