Kitchen Kulture’s Chris Meyer talks about the pandemic and why environmental issues should be in the spotlight
As the November election approaches, we’re talking to the local food community and asking them to comment on why this election matters for St. Louis restaurants.
Here, Chris Meyer (co-owner, Kitchen Kulture, Field to Fire and soon-to-open Songbird) explains how the lack of a coordinated government response to Covid-19 compounded the pandemic’s unique challenges to restaurants, particularly the delicate supply chain they depend on. However, it’s not only Covid that threatens this supply chain, she tells us; consequences of climate change, like the wildfires in California, are disrupting it as well.
“There's a message that's sent to individual [voters], and there's a message that's sent to businesses, and they're not syncing up. We don't feel like we hear anything on a citywide level at all about the virus. A lot of the verbiage I hear is about what people as individuals should be doing [but not businesses] – there is no leadership that is talking about the plan. What is the plan? What are we looking at for this winter? How are we gonna get out of this? The response to Covid has become so partisan it is preventing us from making headway with the virus, which is crippling to restaurants.”
“Take a place like Target: They’re selling a fixed product, they buy it for less [and] sell it for more; there are probably terms for buying – they probably get a discount when they buy in volume. With restaurants, most of the time, you’re buying a product that has a limited shelf life, so you have to sell it within a certain amount of time. It’s not a normal supply chain. So, the nuances of restaurant economics are not obvious to the consumer, so a lot of times they hold restaurants to a normal standard – like a normal supply chain standard – but those don't apply. And those nuances are making this virus even more complicated for restaurants.”
“I don't think it matters how big or small a restaurant is. We're all relying on the same supply chain.”
“If you think Covid is bad, the environmental crisis is even worse; it’s the bigger picture. The wildfires [are an example] because the same thing is happening to vegetables that come out of California – we can’t get scallions or cilantro, and each week it’s something different, but that’s just going to escalate.”
“Whether it’s Covid or the environmental issues, we’ll start upsetting the [restaurant] supply chain, and we’re going to see that more and more. I think it's easy to put the environmental crisis on the back burner because Covid is the forefront. But unless we elect people who show some kind of leadership to proactively address these issues, it's going to economically affect restaurants on a pretty big scale. It’s about holding people who are elected to some kind of standard and demanding some kind of change.”
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