To all food workers, owners, operators, suppliers, food service consultants, hospitality workers, and those that live and breathe Washington State food & beverages our lives are currently in an inconvenient place and need your support to frame a strategy, build a plan, and persevere to bring food & beverage services back to Washington in a stable, safe, & S.M.A.R.T. manner.
Below I have included a letter that I wrote to Governor Jay Inslee and I encourage anyone affected by the decimation of Washington’s food & beverage industries to write, email, text, tweet, and communicate in any positive proactive style to let every layer of local, county, and state government know that Washington State must have a roll out plan for restaurants that supports the safety, sanitation, and economic health of Washington communities and small businesses. Please share my letter or write your own so that we have a plan and path in place that will assure Washington a successful path post “Stay in Place.”
As we keep hearing “we will conquer this together” by “working united” and taking care of each other. Be diligent, have mindfulness, stay safe, and be purposeful.
Let’s build the best Washington that our people and environment deserve.
Chef AJ Barker, CK+B
Dear Governor Jay Inslee,
I am writing to you at a time of grave importance to the food industry and all communities of Washington. Today the Federal Government put together a restaurant task force that leaves Washington with zero representation and threatens all communities in the state with the exception of a few hundred franchise owners.
While this news does not shock me it is the final proof that our current situation can only be solved by Washingtonians. Washington and the Pacific Northwest has always had to look out for ourselves and we must do so now to build a healthy and resilient Washington future for tomorrow.
To do this as a State that is sustainable, a team must be remotely assembled, a strategy needs to be developed with consideration to the top 50 agricultural and food commodities of Washington, Commercial Seafood, Marine Biologists, Foragers, Forestry, Health & Safety, Fire Protection, Waste Management, Food Service Designers, Food Service Operators, Market Directors, Farms, Food Scientists (like someone from the Bread Lab) Wholesalers, Distributors, Manufacturers, Packaging, and Hospitality Representatives.
A plan needs to be developed with segmented responsibilities and line items to implement a strategy that safely feeds people, utilize Local commodities and services that supports our state economy, and define what user experiences will define Northwest eating, entertainment, and social engagement that will be our future. We cannot rebuild, that will only allow history to repeat. What Washington must do is plan and design a future that provides safety and sanitation to our food services and supplies as well as economic stability. As an agrarian State the cradle of our societal health and well being is built in the bedrock of agriculture, food service, and hospitality.
Reports of disposable menus, half capacity establishments, and servers with masks taking temperatures at the door are not reasonable solutions and will only further strain small businesses, waste systems, and infrastructure. Current increase in take out, delivery, grocery services are hastily navigated in an attempt of survival and to decrease a community gap need proper regulations and standards of procedures before more harm comes to our society.
To move forward we must consciously build and design a food system that supports our communities across the state and economically funds the culture of a diverse and robust Washington.
As our state opens up it will be absolutely necessary that our local businesses can compete and appeal to Washingtonians with a realizable quality. A system must be in place to on-board and communicate the importance of our food system and help businesses realize this standard and consumers to understand how spending $ on food and hospitality are supporting votes within our local society.
I know that time is of the essence and together we will build our best tomorrow. Washington is fortunate to have the best of the best minds and experts to stabilize food supplies, design food service, and find economically viable business models to feed and serve our people. In the darkest moments of this stay at home reality my mind goes back to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy where 2 earthquakes destroyed the Parmesan vaults and threatened the world’s Parmesan supply. Italian Chef Massimo Bottura came up with a plan, worked the program, and made a difference to his community, country, and the world. Washington doesn’t have a Parmesan vault, what it does have is clam farms, creameries, breweries, & hundreds of ingredients slots within the states 50 largest commodities. Our current crisis is not an earthquake and has completely stifled our culture and way of life. Washington needs to find our 50 or 500 Chef Bottura’s to guide us through this.
I suggest project phases to be completed as follows:
1.Memorial Day form Committee
2.July 1st Strategy framed
3 August 1st Plan drafted
4. August 28th Plan Workable & Polished
5. Labor Day begins roll-out and on-board procedures
6. Work 30 month plan of economic growth and industry resurrection
7. What’s Next
I am asking for your support to see this through and give Washington a chance to build a transparent food model that gives our people an achievable fighting chance to rapidly heal and operate industries that have been decimated by the pandemic. It is my belief without this Washington’s recovery period will be 5-6 years longer and will bring much more hardships, death, and pain to our neighborhoods while increasing a need for foreign dependence. I am asking for a chance to take care of our own, fortify our independence, and take ownership of our path forward.
Food service planning + commodity involvement should include:
Thank you for your time, I look forward to your thoughts.
Aaron J. Barker
Director of Culinary
Concept Kitchen + Bar