In what may be a world first, Emmanuel Stroobant of Singapore’s two Michelin-starred Saint Pierre has created a social distancing fine-dining evening out – really an evening in – to be enjoyed with friends, complete with a live appearance of the chef himself “tableside”. A group of diners pre-order an elegantly presented bento box from the restaurant, which is delivered to each of their homes on their chosen night. They then log in to a Zoom meeting, and when all are gathered, Stroobant joins the party to introduce the meal, as he would to a table of guests celebrating in his restaurant. Diners then continue to enjoy the meal together online. 10 best Hong Kong restaurants which have closed in 2020 “I think our Virtual Saint Pierre is unprecedented, but it’s necessary given the times we’re in,” says Stroobant. Chef Angelo Agliano, director of Michelin-starred Tosca di Angelo at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, is another of the many chefs faced with the dilemma of keeping business running through Covid-19. In response to the challenge of social distancing, he came up with an unusual plan: if some diners prefer to eat in the safety of their own home, he would take the fine dining experience to them. People are more likely to dine in reliable restaurants that they can trust with a clean environment, strict hygiene … Peace of mind and good food – those are the things people will look for Angelo Agliano, director, Tosca di Angelo The Tosca di Angelo Experience at Home allows guests to choose from two seasonal menus that showcase the finest local produce and Italian cooking flair. The restaurant sends not only the ingredients to the diner’s home, but also the chefs, who cook the meal on the spot. A Tosca di Angelo maitre d’ provides service during the meal. Savvy solutions such as these may help restaurants survive what Simon Rogan, of Michelin-starred Roganic Hong Kong, calls a “catastrophe” that “will forever change the restaurant industry as we know it”. Countless restaurants around the world have already permanently closed their doors and more will undoubtedly follow. Which popular Chinese restaurant staples are truly Chinese? But while that is a tragedy in some cases Vicky Lau, the award-winning chef behind Hong Kong’s Tate Dining Room, sees a silver lining and says the “distress” of the coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to tear up the rule book. “We’re all creatures of habit, and change is hard without a big shock. Now the old rules can be broken. The world as we know it is shifting, some restaurants will shut and some will alchemise and adapt,” she says. The biggest adaptation for most restaurateurs is hygiene: diners will want to feel that they are safe, and restaurants are doing all they can to ensure people’s good health. Everything from temperature screening of diners and regular table disinfection to strict food handling processes and kitchen sanitising may be required. Can restaurants around the world survive the coronavirus? “People are more likely to dine in reliable restaurants that they can trust with a clean environment, strict hygiene standards and staff that respect these safety measures,” says Agliano. “Peace of mind and good food – those are the things people will look for.” Rogan agrees that in the future safety will be a major concern, and this will affect not only how diners access their food but what restaurants will produce. In the post-pandemic environment, we will celebrate food and not chefs Vicky Lau, Tate Dining Room “Delivery is necessary, and the ability to choose through a wider choice of accessible offerings will become the main marketplace,” he says. “Chefs will have learned that the way we work has now changed forever. Just to survive, flexibility is key.” Innovation is now no longer a buzzword but a survival tactic. Opening up new revenue streams, such as creating more affordable and takeaway-friendly dishes – which can be difficult for fine dining restaurants that often offer meticulous and sophisticated fare that does not travel well – can be a lifeline for restaurants that have temporarily closed to the public or have had to reduce the number of tables because of social distancing norms. Covid-19 has not only changed how chefs cook, but what they cook. Border closures and logistical disturbances have put pressure on supply chains – as the increasing number of home cooks faced with empty supermarket shelves will know – and chefs say that this will boost the already growing trend of sourcing and eating local. “The move to fresh, healthy and super tasty, with hyperlocal, organic foods, is inevitable,” says Rogan, while Lau describes it as “globalisation being put on pause”. Along with supporting local farmers by sourcing locally, Lau believes the pandemic has shifted awareness onto restaurants and other businesses supporting their own people – both staff and customers. “We will go back to a more humanistic approach in organisations that aims to help improve people’s well-being, mental and physical,” she says. “We will start to think about whether we’re only selling a product or experience, or whether we can help our customers to become more independent or a better version of themselves.” Linked to this people-centred approach, Lau sees the restaurant business developing its empathy and communication skills. “As more people are cooking at home, we will continue to think about what skills and knowledge our community would be interested in developing,” she says. “Live streaming, online videos and shopping are readily available, and we will focus on collectively re-educating the public with the important life skill of learning how to cook.” New restaurants on the scene in TST, Sai Wan Ho and Sai Kung In this new dining landscape, rock star chefs will lose some of their lustre: “In the post-pandemic environment, we will celebrate food and not chefs,” she says. Even with food itself back in centre stage, no restaurant can be confident of customer levels returning to what they were before. Due to wider economic stress, fine dining restaurants will likely also have less investor support during and after the pandemic. Restaurants that do weather the storm may well be creating a new identity for Hong Kong dining. “The only fine dining restaurants that will survive are those that are able to stand out by thinking out of the box, and that can adapt to the changed market,” according to Agliano, who says he is grateful for being part of a hotel with adequate resources and a well-established, respected brand. “This will mean that the fine dining scene in Hong Kong will only become more innovative and unique.” Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .