“Just add soy sauce and it will all be fine.”
Hospitality is an industry driven by the heart and passion of those who work within it. In the midst of an unprecedented crisis for Hospitality, we’ve witnessed many business owners and their teams taking positive and innovative actions to support the survival of their business as well as their local communities.
Unlike many other small businesses, a restaurant’s cash flow is completely dependent on customers walking through the door. When a restaurant shuts up shop, it can have catastrophic consequences for the owners and staff.
We hear from the brilliant duo – Great British Menu winner and Murano-trained Pip Lacey and Gordy McIntyre, who are long-time pals and co-owners of the fantastic modern British London based restaurant, Hicce. They share their experiences navigating their way through the crisis, as well as offering practical tips for a nation in lockdown – forced into being home-chefs with limited food resources.
How have you been spending your time since the government ordered the closure of bars and restaurants to slow the spread of covid-19?
Pip: First things first, we sorted the restaurant out. This included a deep clean, giving food to a food bank, and making sure our staff were looked after as much as possible. The next stage will be entering them into the government portal in order to claim the funding. Myself, Gordy and most of our management team have all signed to be volunteers for the NHS. I’ve been cooking everyday, sometimes documenting it for social media. I’m cooking new recipes which is keeping things interesting. I’ve been speaking to my family a lot. Both my grandmas live on their own, both over 90. Doing zoom chats and quizzes with friends, the usual lockdown antics!
Gordy: Our first priority was to try and sort our Hicce family out. We’ve been working tirelessly to get our guys some pay and reassurances. In between this, I have a pair of daughters (3 & 12 weeks old), so I have been doing arts & crafts and baby yoga!
What measures have you put in place in order for your business to survive and bounce-back following the end of the crisis?
Pip: Firstly, we’ve kept calm for the business and for our team, it was almost like we knew the protocol. At the same time keeping in touch with the team and keeping spirits high, it’s only the beginning but we won’t give up and I believe we have a team that won’t quit no matter what.
Gordy: We have ensured we have kept the crux of our team together to hit the ground running. Our strength has always been in our wonderful little Hicce family and these are the people that will ensure the spirit of Hicce lives on.
Are you in the position where you can shift your business model to match the current demand for “shelter in place” eating experiences?
Pip: We considered all the options and where Hicce is located, it just didn’t seem right to do anything other than close.
Gordy: We are not really in the position to do so right now. We’ve had to focus on ensuring we can come back bigger and better when we have the opportunity.
What are your views on the government’s financial package to support hospitality staff?
Gordy: We’re really pleased with how the government have stepped in to offer help to the hospitality industry. They seem to have responded pretty quickly and strongly, but only time will tell. It’s just such-a devastating time for us all and I fear we are going to lose some fantastic operators. When we come out the other side of, we will really need their support more than ever.
How do you anticipate the industry bouncing back after the dust settles?
Pip: I have no doubt we will be buzzing and bouncing again, however it’s going to be a slow build and a painful one, with more hard decisions to be made. What’s great about this industry is we will all pull together.
Gordy: It’s going to be really tough, with no real idea of how long the restrictions or peoples fears will last. One thing I do know is people in this industry are made of some seriously tough stuff and if any industry can come back bigger and better, I believe it is this one.
What practical advice do you have for the nation cooking with potentially limited resources? Do you have any “go to” recipes for cooking with what you’ve got and not wasting anything?
Pip: One thing I’ve been doing is delving into the spice and “random ingredients” draw we have and trying to do things I’ve never done before. Ask chefs on social media if you don’t know what to do and have run out of ideas or patience. Cooking shouldn’t be stressful. Well not at home anyway! My go to is “just add soy sauce and it will all be fine.”
Gordy: I have always been a bit of an adventurous cook, by that I mean I don’t really stick to recipes. I always have key things like Chorizo, Smoked paprika and if I am stuck, my all time favourite is simple tinned mackerel in spicy tomato sauce, you can make some wonderful concoctions.
Do you have any advice for grocery shopping while in quarantine?
Pip: Green veg to be healthy, potatoes and rice because you can put anything with them. Chocolate to put a smile on your face. Oh and tea!
Which websites are you using for guidance and information at the moment?
Pip: The government’s, speaking to chefs and owners, and trying not to look at random news.
Gordy: A bit of the government and we are lucky enough to have great support around us. I am trying to start focusing on positives and steering clear of all the morbid social media and news coverage. I want to try and stay as positive as I can.
Follow Pip & Gordy’s journey on Hicce’s Instagram account for all the quarantine cooking inspiration your heart desires!