Redefining Fine Dining
in Today's Day and Age
Last week, Oumy Diaw, founder and owner @TheChampagneSommelier.Official, contacted me to invite me to participate in a new Live Series on her Instagram Page titled "Redefining Fine Dining in today's Day and Age".
Oumy's concept for this New Live Series consists of talking with renown Sommeliers and other personalities of the Wine & Spirits world, as well as other Food & Beverage professionals working in Restaurants, Hotels and Wine & Spirits Retails from around the world, for them to express their views and opinions and eventual solutions on how Fine Dining could be redefined to strive and survive in the aftermath of Covid-19.
Excited by the idea to participate in such a project and also be able to express my views, opinions and eventual solutions on the topic, I enthusiastically accepted her invitation (refer to the links further below at the bottom of this post to watch the live video).
I was very proud and felt really privileged to do it, more especially when I realized that world-renown wine personalities such as Pascaline Lepeltier, MS (Master Sommelier) and MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France Sommelier 2018), as well as Rita Jammet, the owner of the famous restaurant "La Caravelle" in New York (closed since 2004), and owner of La Caravelle Champagne (and a Bordeaux with the same name from Listrac, Médoc), were featured amongst the numerous guests of this project.
|COVID-19 - The Aftermath of the First Wave |
by ©Domelgabor 2020
Over the last 6 months, since early January 2020, COVID-19 has spread all around the world creating havoc on its path and destabilizing the economy of most countries.
More especially in the western world, where governments didn't take the threat seriously enough and early enough to be able to counter it on time to prevent the spreading and protect their citizens.
It resulted in a complete mishandling of the situation and total miscommunication on how to handle and tackle it, plunging respectively each country, one after another, into both an unprecedented financial and a social crisis.
Facing an ever-increasing number of infected cases and a rising death toll, many countries had to take drastic measures such as quarantine, isolation, curfew and even months-long confinement to curb the spread and prevent more disastrous consequences.
As a result, financial and social stability started to crumble...
People were (still are) losing their jobs with low or no more income. Most being completely disconnected from social resources and societal expectations. Unable to sustain their family any longer. Having to rely on food stamps/coupons. Some even were (still are) living in their car, as unable to pay for their rent no more. Millions of people around the world are now in dire needs of help and assistance to be able to face and overcome this situation.
Businesses were (still are) closing, some temporarily, some for good with no hope to be able to reopen one day. Cinemas, exhibition centres, museums, library and other public places were (some still are) closed until further notice.
People had to wear masks, use hand sanitizer, adopt social distancing and respect their distances, avoid gatherings or group activities, stay home as much as possible, and transition to telecommuting whenever possible.
It was (still is) a huge change in most people's life, psychologically, emotionally, morally, spiritually and even physically. Some are still traumatised by their experience of these last 3-4 months.
Moreover, due to a resurgence of the virus activities and spreading, currently occurring in various countries over the past few days, (more especially after a few weeks of easing of the situation and hopes for a brighter future), a growing fear of a second wave, having for consequences a re-confinement with quarantine, isolation and curfew, is rising in the mind of these people who might be able to cope with the situation once more.
|COVID-19 - Decovidment - COVOXYGEN |
by ©Domelgabor 2020
Tribute to Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygen Album Cover
The travelling, hospitality and tourism industry (planes, trains, buses and other transports in general, hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, as well as other tourist-oriented services providers and businesses like the ecotourism and oenotourism) were the first to be impacted and immediately suffered the consequences of this chaotic situation.
Over the last 3 months, the impossibility to travel to other counties killed the GDP of most countries depending mostly on travel, hospitality and tourism to thrive and survive. Hotels and restaurants saw their daily booking reduce to barely nothing, or even nothing at all for months where they had to close.
"Where they had to close", as it was not the case everywhere. In Hong Kong, for example, we had no confinement and therefore all the hotels and restaurants never closed and remained open until now, without any interruptions.
Compared to most countries in Europe and the Western World in general, the majority of the countries and regions in Eastern Asia, more especially Hong Kong, handled the situation quite well from the beginning, by immediately taking drastic measures and actions, including, but not limited to:
- Asking people to wear a mask (which, they did on their own anyway, having the experience of previous epidemics and pandemics in my mind, more especially SARS-CoV in 2003)
- Closing the frontiers with the neighbouring countries (China)
- Monitoring people in all public places and office buildings with heat sensor-equipped cameras and/or constantly taking temperatures
- a compulsory 14-day containment measure in January to isolate people considered to have been in close contact with patients, as well as people coming from high-risk places.
- Providing hand sanitizers at the entrance of most public places
- Distributing free washable and reusable masks
- Imposing a quarantine to all people coming from outside HK and make them wear a bracelet to distinguish them if they were disobeying the quarantine rule.
- Immediately isolating and taking care of the infected
- Checking/investigating their immediate surroundings for other eventual potentially infected
- No gatherings or group of more than 4 people
- Imposing social distancing of 1.5 to 2 meters between people
Yet, despite all these drastic measures and no confinement, COVID-19 has taken a toll on Hong Kong hospitality and tourism industry, which had already been tremendously impacted prior the virus due to all the ongoing protests since June 2019 that came to a halt in December 2019, when the first rumours of COVID-19 filtered out from the city of Wuhan, located in the Hubei province, in the central-eastern part of China.
As per HK Gov website, HK tourism industry is one of the major pillars of the economy of Hong Kong.
The total number of tourists coming to visit Hong Kong also called "Asia's World City 亞洲國際都會", or also the "Pearl of the Orient 東方之珠 ", or even "Le Port aux Parfums" (in French), amounts to about 66 million people and can roughly be divided in 60% of foreigners and 40% from mainland China.
In 2017, it contributed to around 4% of Hong Kong’s GDP and employed around 257 100 persons, accounting for about 7% of total employment. In 2018, total visitor arrivals rose by 11.4% over 2017 to 65.15 million. In the first eight months of 2019, the total number of visitors rose by 4.0%.
Yet, this slight increase in the first half of 2019 did not last long as the protests, which started in June 2019, tarnish the tourist-friendly and attractive destination image of HK, scaring the tourists as well as some established companies that felt the need to consider delocalizing to another place like Singapore or Taiwan if necessary.
Some did, fragilizing a little more an economy already weakened by a few years of the bad relationship between the HK Government and the people of Hong Kong. And by August 2019, HK lost roughly about 40% of tourist arrivals, mainly from mainland China, over the ongoing protest crisis.
In the 6 months that followed until COVID-19 appeared, late December 2019, the protests somehow damaged the city and disrupted the life of Hong Kong people at so many levels (including disruptions in the MTR and trains, with most HK schools and businesses suffering, directly or indirectly, from the collateral damages of the protests and their impacts on the tourism and hospitality industry too.
Now, end of June 2020, roughly 1 year after the beginning of the protests in HK, and about 6 months after the beginning of this devastating COVID-19 pandemic, in what we could call "The Aftermath of the First Wave", countries are reopening slowly, gradually easing the drastic measures put in place in the last 3-4 months.
Restaurant and hotels are gradually reopening but business is still fairly low with only between 25-35% of booking capacity for Fine Dining over the last few weeks.
Hence the necessity of Oumy's project to openly ask the question to professionals of the industry: How to redefine Fine Dining in today's day and age?
Meaning that, within the context in this COVID-19 pandemic's aftermath, what should we do and what can we do for Fine Dining establishments to continue to exist, thrive and survive? What are the eventual possibilities? What are the potential solutions in the short and long terms? What can be done for us to be able to safely go back to the restaurants while not being exposed to danger and not endangering others (clients and/or staff) at the same time?
So far, Pascaline Lepeltier, Rita Jammet and I have tried to express our opinions, views and eventual solutions to resolve this situation. Yet, knowing Oumy and her determination, more guests will soon be featured in her "Redefining Fine Dining in today's Day and Age" Live series on her Instagram Page.
* Work in progress - To be finished soon *
LeDomduVin (a.k.a. Dominique Noël)
Sources and Useful & Related Links
You can watch the live video while visiting her Instagram Professional Page at
or directly by clicking on or cut and paste the following link
You can also visit Oumy's Website at
Pascaline Lepeltier, MS, MOF
Rita Jammet, La Caravelle Champagne
Hong Kong: The Facts - Tourism
South China Morning Post article about Tourism Down over protest crisis
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