1 Sep 2021

South Island eateries innovate catering to alert level 3 restrictions

11:01 am on 1 September 2021

Takeaway is back on the menu in the South Island.

Sweet Soul Patisserie owners Taina Scur (right) with her sister Rea.

Sweet Soul Patisserie owners Taina Scur (right) with her sister Rea. Photo: Supplied/Sarah Rowlands

That's music to the ears of many reluctant cooks as level 3 brings a much-wanted break from baking, braising and boiling as well as a boost to businesses.

While many might be eyeing up the fast food chains, smaller South Island restaurants and cafes were excited to offer takeaway food and drinks too.

In Marlborough, Arbour restaurant owner Liz Buttimore said takeaway food wasn't their usual kind.

But her business decided to branch out for level 3 last year.

"We do dinner party kits for homes so (chef) Brad gets everything ready to the point where you don't even need a chopping board or a peeler or a sharp knife.

"You actually just present the dishes on the plate, follow the photos in the instructions and then swan to the table and look amazing."

Bookings for this week opened on Friday after the Covid briefing - they were sold out by Saturday.

They were using nine local producers for this week's menu.

That meant they get good quality produce and were able to stay in touch during lockdown, she said.

"We talk to them about different scenarios. They take the time to look at each briefing and try to predict with us what we're going to need.

"They put it on hold so we don't have to order lamb for 180 people and then risk it going off in the chiller."

Taina Scur from Sweet Soul Patisserie hoped Christchurch residents still had a sweet tooth after two weeks in lockdown.

"We work with fresh food. Everything is being made on the day, on that morning. So if you don't sell much, there is no reason why everyone should be there.

"But luckily I work with a beautiful team. Everyone is understanding that situation so we're just going to have half a team working."

She was not expecting it would be completely smooth sailing as businesses adjusted to level 3 and she asked customers to be patient.

"We may not have so many options and this is not just for our business ... we work with not so many options, we'll have supply issues and also we don't know ... the new normal numbers that we're going to have."

She encouraged more people to support local small businesses who put a lot of passion and time into what they created.

This lockdown hit a lot harder for Toad Hall Moteuka owner Angie Morris.

"There was probably 100kg of varying salads in the chiller that obviously can't be frozen. We wake up the next day in lockdown. I can't just distribute the stuff.

"Where as the first lockdown ... you were easing in to the possibility that there was going to be a lockdown and you had already started to prepare less and prepare to minimise the wastage and the loss in the business.

She was feeling more cautious about reopening.

"My concern reopening is definitely the risk of yo-yoing between the levels so if I get my team in to prep and get ready to open and then we yo-yo back to Level 4 then there's a second hit financially, which is really hard at this time of the year," Morris said.

She planned to wait a week under level 3 in case there were any South Island cases before making a call about reopening for takeaways.

But she hadn't ruled out welcoming some staff back to make bottled produce this week.

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