We have to be extra careful these days. The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic is not showing signs of letting up just yet, with the number of new daily cases hitting record highs many times over.
So we are back to the so-called enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) status but hopefully not for too long.
The food industry is again hit hard by this development. After restaurants were restricted to serve customers only in an al fresco setting, the following week, dine-in was not allowed anymore, so restaurants had to limit their transactions back to only take-outs and deliveries. Catering companies were adversely affected as well, as they were met by event cancelations following the announcement of yet another lockdown.
Compared to last year, though, restaurants and caterers are more prepared now. So, they were able to adjust quickly to the situation. Take Diana Uy, seasoned caterer, who recently embarked on a new catering venture via Catering by Diana with Chef Alfonso.
It is a collaboration with a young and talented chef, Alfonso Lorenzo Santos, the son of one of her best friends, in whom she saw tremendous potential. They collaborated on the menu, came up with exciting packages and were set to launch their wedding menu packages as the economy continued to open and normalize. They even participated in an open house for soon-to-wed couples at La Huerta Estate in Antipolo, Rizal, and successfully impressed quite a number of potential clients. But then the Covid-19 situation took a turn for the worse and the government had no other recourse but to place NCR Plus Bubble under another lockdown.
As quick as restaurants and other caterers adapted to the situation, Catering by Diana with Chef Alfonso switched to their “new normal” packed meals and food trays, which are available for pickup and for delivery. It is work-from-home time again for most households, and the demand for food delivery is expected to go up — and stay up even after the government decides to lift the NCR Plus Bubble’s ECQ status.
Catering by Diana with Chef Alfonso quickly adjusted to this market with their extensive packed meal and food tray menu, which is a combination of all-time favorites from Diana’s old catering company, What’s Cookin’ Kitchenette, and new dishes created by 26-year-old Chef Alfonso with inputs from Diana.
These food trays, which are ideally ordered five to seven days in advance, include fish foldover, grilled prawns with lemon butter sauce and toasted garlic, salmon with creamy cheese sauce, beef with mushroom in brown sauce, sukiyaki-cut beef belly with special dipping sauce, chicken parmigiana, Chicken ala King, charbroiled pork belly, Lechon Macau, baked lasagna and pasta aglio olio with shrimps.
These food trays come in two sizes — small, which is good for five persons; and large, which is good for 10 persons — with prices ranging from P700 to P1,500 for the small tray, and from P1,500 to P3,000 for the large tray. The least expensive item on the menu should be Lechon Macau, which costs P700 for the small tray and P1,500 for the large tray; and the most expensive being the sumptuous grilled prawns with lemon butter sauce and toasted garlic, which costs P1,500 for the small tray and P3,000 for the large one.
Orders may be placed through 0917-7909813, with bank transfer or GCash as payment options. Delivery via Lalamove may be arranged, with delivery charge on client’s account.
But while busy preparing food trays for clients who choose to stay home to stay safe during this nth round of lockdowns, Diana and chef Alfonso are at the same time finalizing packages for future weddings. Weddings are, after all, the main line of their catering business, and both of them have no doubt that when the lockdown eases, the situation improves and the country heals from the coronavirus pandemic with the rest of the world, people will start getting married again. Love will triumph, and couples would want to celebrate life, love and togetherness even more. By then, Catering by Diana with Chef Alfonso will be ready to lend a helping hand to make sure all the wedding details, particularly when it comes to food and the entire reception, are properly taken care of.
The catering company has, in fact, already come up with four menu selections, each of which includes a welcome treat, a soup served with dinner rolls or pandesal and butter, several main entrées with steamed rice, a dessert and two kinds of pastries and beverages. These can be made to fit small parties, such as 30, 40 or 50 guests, since marrying couples have been restricted to intimate weddings during the pandemic in compliance with social distancing rules. Only six guests shall occupy each 10-seater table, and uniformed waiters will be wearing masks and other protective gear.
I guess this will be the way things are for now and big dream weddings will have to wait for many more months — maybe years — to come.