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Takeaway comes to save the day

French restaurant Mireio of Raffles and Fairmont Makati now offers even their fine dining specialties to enjoy in the comforts and safety of your own home.

I never thought I would see the day when takeaway would be the “new normal.”

Mireio, the French restaurant of Raffles Makati, has started its own takeaway service and I must admit it is fabulous. After eating my own cooking for two months, having professionally cooked food once again certainly is a treat. Unlike other restaurants that are now offering packed meals of their signature dishes but would still require you to cook your own order, Mireio brings as much of the Raffles and Fairmont experience as it can muster to your doorstep.

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First of all, the delivery—at least for Makati—is by a hotel bellboy who comes in uniform. Then you open your package and the meal comes even with the signature table bread and butter. You can order a set course that is complete with soup, salad, mains and dessert. Their kitchen even lays it out on their takeaway packages as if they were plated for dining at the hotel.

Then of course there is the genius of French chef Anne-Cecile Degenne. There is really no substitute for the impeccable execution of even a simple zucchini soup by a well-trained and experienced French chef. To have a dish—a simple bowl of soup—that is not only delicious but whose every ingredient sings in perfect harmony with the rest reminds you that yes, once upon a time, in a world that now seems so far away, you could walk into a room and a talented chef like Ms Degenne would cook for you while you enjoyed a fabulous conversation with friends whom you could speak to and whisper “chismis” to without having to wear a mask. Then you would enjoy a meal that would bring out both the creative and analytical sides of your mind; that would make you smile and maybe even hear music in your head.

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Oh, to have perfectly cooked sea bass that never crosses over to dry and pork belly with fat glistening even under florescent light; and bulgur and lentil whose spices transport you to the Middle East.

Of course I sprayed each package before moving them to a fancy plate. (I have just discovered dish washing spray and now use this on every item that is delivered.) And after the last éclair, I had to face the other reality of having to wash the never ending mound of dishes (if you are quarantined with household help, count your blessings and give their families a hefty bonus!).

I truly miss dining at restaurants. But the sad reality is that it doesn’t look like dining as we knew it will be resurfacing in the near future.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has just released an advisory reminding hotels that while basic room services are allowed for hotel guests, ancillary establishments such as restaurants, cafes and bars are still not allowed to operate under the enhanced community quarantine although take out and delivery are now allowed under the “modified enhanced community quarantine” (MECQ).

As takeaway services would now be allowed in the National Capital Region under MECQ, the DOT requires hotels to now provide the following data: 1) Commencement date of takeout and delivery services; 2) procedure for the acceptance of orders, food preparations, takeout or delivery services; 3) safety protocols in the kitchen and in interaction with customers; 4) details of manpower dedicated to food preparation operations; and 5) number and designation of checked-in guests (whether foreign, long-staying guests, overseas Filipino workers under quarantine, or workers in essential establishments).

Chef See Cheong Yan of Enderun Colleges sees this as something necessary because, he theorizes, it would help regain the trust of consumers. “If you want [the industry] to return to normal,” Chef See said in a zoom forum moderated by Bel Castro of Enderun, “you need to assure customers of safety—from [identifying] the food handler to the deli­very.” He explained that this adds a layer of security for customers who would then be more confident in patronizing restaurants and other food businesses again.

It is confidence that must be earned sooner than later as it is imperative to revive the F&B industry again not for the sheer pleasure of having fine zucchini soup and sea bass but for the employment of so many kitchen workers whose families are now only relying on government relief packs that may not even be getting to them and certainly not enough to feed them through this crisis.

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In the meantime, those who can should do everything possible to support the industry: So do call your favorite restaurants and place those orders. Just make sure that when you receive the food, you are six feet away; that you disinfect all containers upon arrival; and, especially for seniors, it wouldn’t hurt to heat the food for a minute before enjoying that fine, luxurious takeaway that will remind you of better days and at the same time give a glimpse of hope for better days to come.

More from the author at margauxlicious.com. Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.

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