Canada’s restaurant industry has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. With many restaurants choosing to close permanently and others continuing to operate at a loss, it’s predicted to take up to 18 months for the industry to fully recover.
But like diamonds in the rough, some of the most innovative ideas emerge from periods of hardship in which people are forced to adapt and improve their business models.
In the case of notable chef and owner of Vancouver’s newly formed Modern Chef Society, Deon Asencio, that meant launching a private dining service. An alternative to the uncertainties of dining out or hiring a catering company, the service offers locals the opportunity to be dotted on by chefs and experience restaurant-quality meals at home.
While the crisis created a new window of opportunity for the unique business to operate due to its increased relevancy, Asencio’s bright idea to band together some of the city’s best chefs for at-home dining actually predates the pandemic.
Concerned about the mental health of chefs who often face gruelling work conditions and long, unusual hours, he sought to create an alternative that would offer more work-life balance for chefs and more value for restaurant-goers.
Asencio recalls his own personal journey working a demanding 60 to 70 hour workweek and the lack of resources at his disposal to help mitigate the stress. “Ultimately, I found that it wasn’t my outlook that needed to change, but the unhealthy work environment,” he states.
Mental health has been an explosive topic of discussion in recent years as the glamour and allure of the over-worked chef persona has begun to lose its sheen.
It’s within this context that the Modern Chef Society was born. After all, there’s little reason chefs should have to endure less than ideal environments in order to bring quality dining experiences to everyday people.
Within this new framework created by Asencio and his team, chefs and clients would mutually benefit from the experience.
On one hand, chefs are able to break free from the boundaries of conventional restaurants. On the other, clients have the ability to fully curate and customize their own menus and dining settings, with full access to chefs who typically operate behind the scenes.
Earlier this year when the pandemic began to ravage the dining industry, Asencio became more determined than ever to get his idea off the ground. In the blink of an eye, some of the most creative minds behind the city’s best restaurants were left without work.
He says, “Immediately, I saw a fork in the road: be at the mercy of the ongoing quarantine or find a creative solution for me and my fellow workers to continue doing what we love.”
Turns out, his instincts were spot on. Amid the pandemic, local foodies and restaurant-goers were on the lookout for new and unique ways to enjoy culinary experiences.
Today, the Modern Chef Society is fully operational and connecting people with a range of chefs, cooking-styles, and experiences to suit the distinct tastes and flair of each of their customers.
From sit-down dinners to passed canapes and big parties, everything is tailored to client needs. This includes all of the shopping, preparation, service, and clean up.
Since these customized experiences can be enjoyed from the comfort of home or a private venue, it’s much safer than a typical restaurant. In creating a more sheltered atmosphere, they’ve been able to abate many of the safety concerns recently associated with dining out.
Their current roster of chefs includes founder Asencio, who has worked with major fashion brands like Gucci and Cartier, Chef Tristen Katcher, private Chef Manu Fournier, and pastry Chef Rochelle Leung.
Asencio hopes that their positive and inventive approach to the pandemic will inspire a broader movement. “But, above all, the team remains dedicated to creating unforgettable experiences for our clients and their guests,” he adds.
Modern Chef Society will also be giving away a VIP seven-course dining experience for four. To enter, simply join the email subscription list via their website, tag three friends you’d love to dine with on their latest Instagram contest post “WIN A FREE VIP DINNER,” and be sure you and your friends are following to win. The winner will be announced on September 15, 2020.
Looking for the perfect gift? Modern chef society is offering $100, $250, and $500 gift cards that you can purchase to use towards a future dining experience. Visit the Modern Chef Society website for details.
When else will you have the opportunity to hand-select everything from the chefs, food, cocktails, playlist, decor, and guests at your very own dream dinner party?