Hero shot of chef Shannon Kellam for profile and possible cover
Hero shot of chef Shannon Kellam for profile and possible cover

Restaurants’ strategy to weather viral storm

TAKEAWAYS, extra spacing between diners… creative solutions to the coronavirus crisis are emerging from some of the state's leading restaurateurs.

Shannon Kellam, owner of Brisbane's award-winning French restaurant Montrachet - and the soon-to-open state-of-the-art Lumiere Culinary Studio and production kitchen in the Mercedes-Benz building at Newstead - introduced a new policy yesterday that will see diners seated at every second table in the King St restaurant in Bowen Hills to ensure it remains a low-risk venue.

This will reduce the number of diners in the usually buzzing brasserie from 60 to 30 at any one time, a move he says is designed to protect customers and staff.

"It's an unprecedented situation for our industry, I haven't faced anything like this in 28 years," Kellam says.

"We have to think outside the box and we have to act now."

Kellam, who spent 16 hours on Sunday with his wife Clare mapping out strategies, will also introduce a takeaway service from Montrachet, made possible by the new production kitchen at the Newstead.

"People will be able to pick up semi-prepared meals from Montrachet and finish them at home," he says.

By the end of the week, the restaurant's Facebook page will have the takeaway menu, a link to an ordering page and a series of short, easy-to-follow videos that will show diners how to finish the meals at home.



Montrachet’s Shannon Kellam prepares food for takeaway. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP
Montrachet’s Shannon Kellam prepares food for takeaway. Picture: Josh Woning/AAP



For example, the restaurant's signature crab souffle would come with a sous vide bag of bisque and a portion of grated cheese, which could be easily assembled. French onion soup will also be available and mains will include bouillabaisse, beef bourguignon with Paris mash, and confit duck l'orange with braised lentils.

Desserts will include a classic opera cake and pecan and caramel tartlets as well as various cakes, breads and pastries.

The takeaway will be priced more cheaply than the same dishes in the restaurant, with the souffle, for example, likely to be $18 compared with $28.50 in-house.

Pick-up times will be spread across the day and night during Montrachet's Monday to Friday opening hours and are likely to extend to Saturday, with pick-up available from Kellam's Bowen Hills boulangerie, King Street Bakery.

The new cooking school will open as planned on April 2, with classes cut to 12 to allow for additional space between participants' work stations.

And Kellam's planned new restaurant, Mica, which is also at the base of the Newstead building, will go ahead with its opening at the end of April.


Dine-in turns takeaway


TAKING the more drastic step of closing its doors temporarily is Restaurant Labart on the Gold Coast, named Queensland's best regional restaurant in last year's Courier-Mail food awards.

Owners Alex and Karla Munoz Labart , whose Burleigh Heads eatery opened in July 2018, instead plan to offer takeaway meals, although the dishes will be more homely than the dishes usually served in the restaurant.

Cooked each morning by Labart's chefs, the selection of dishes will change daily. There will be a focus on simple, nutritious, healthy meals.

"We want to nourish people in a time when the world needs it the most," Alex says. "Dishes will be rustic, comfort food as we head into the winter months.

"Think chicken coq au vin and mash potato; free-range pork, chickpea and pumpkin casserole; and beef bone broth minestrone.

"We'll also have an offering of desserts and sides."

Labart at Home will be available for pick up from the restaurant from Wednesday to Sunday afternoons and meals will cost from $20-$30.

An online ordering and payment system will ensure minimal physical contact.

Takeaway will be served in biodegradable, recyclable packaging.



Wasabi closes


AWARD-winning Noosa restaurant Wasabi has closed.

It's still for sale, with owner Danielle Gjestland , who spent 17 years running the fine diner, saying they had thought they'd be handing over to someone but it didn't eventuate.

The last fully booked service was on Saturday night.

The restaurant, on prime real estate on the Noosa River, has been on the market since mid-December.

With Gjestland's husband starting a new job in Japan on April 1, a decision had to be made.

"We've drawn it out as long as we could," she says.