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Pontalba Potatoes
Serves 4

2 tbsp butter
Salt, to taste
2 c baked potatoes, skinned and diced (about 3 potatoes)
½ c sliced red onions
1 c mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp garlic, minced
¼ c green onions, thinly sliced
1 c green peppercorn sauce (see below)

In a non-stick pan, over medium heat, melt butter. Lightly salt potatoes and pan fry until light brown. Add red onions and fry until potatoes and onions are dark brown. Add mushrooms, garlic and green onions and saute briefly. Add peppercorn sauce and toss to coat. Salt to taste. Garnish with sliced green onion if desired.

Green Peppercorn Sauce
Yields 4 cups

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1/3 c brandy
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp coarse black pepper
1/2 c green peppercorns
2 c veal jus
2 c whipping cream
Salt, to taste

In a saucepan, over medium heat, prepare roux by melting the butter and slowly stirring in the flour. Stir frequently until just starting to brown 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, into a non-reactive stockpot, add the brandy, red wine vinegar, black pepper and peppercorns and reduce by half. Add the veal jus to the reduction. Whisk roux vigorously into the stock while bringing to a simmer. Stir frequently, simmering for 30 minutes. Add the cream and simmer five minutes. Season to taste.

 
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July 15, 2020

We’re now $343 billion poorer as a nation because of COVID-19. As a result, our national debt will reach unprecedented levels.

While some Canadians will dispute how the government is supporting Canadians and businesses during the pandemic, many will argue it didn’t have of much choice. There’s certainly some truth to that.

The numbers are massive. But what’s most concerning is that the government appears to lack an economic recovery strategy.

And the food service industry desperately needs one.

To that end, some countries are launching interesting programs to help the hospitality industry. In Britain, for example, a voucher program called “eat out to help out” was launched to support restaurants, pubs and other food establishments.

It’s corporate welfare, of course, but the pandemic is different, very different. Very rarely has one event affected both sides of the economy at once. Both supply-side economics and demand have been hard hit.

So the British government is spending more than £500 million on its voucher program over 13 days. It’s a lot of money.

The program covers August only, Mondays to Wednesdays, for a total or 13 days. All registered establishments will offer meals at half price, with a maximum discount of about $15 per person (roughly £10), including children. Consumers can use vouchers as many times as they want, so they can use the vouchers over consecutive days.

Vouchers can’t be used for takeout or delivery, only for sit-down meals. Alcoholic drinks are excluded.

Restaurant operators can start to register for the program on the British government's website starting on July 13. From fast food to fine dining, operators can make claims and be reimbursed directly by the government.

Canada could follow Britain’s footsteps, but such an initiative has significant and obvious downsides.

For one, the ethics of a government giving money to consumers so they can eat junk food is questionable. Most governments in the Western world have been beating the health drum for some time, including the British government. Supporting fast-food chains with public funding seems a little awkward.

Plus, some of these establishments are part of huge conglomerates. Public funding given to well-resourced global franchises is problematic. On the other hand, the financial viability of many of these establishments is an issue. Estimates suggest 30 to 50 per cent of all restaurants will close within a year due to COVID-19. Public support for establishments that are bound to fail may be ill-timed.

But the hospitality industry isn’t just about continuity. It’s also about jobs, people, human capital and communities. Many people in the industry have precarious financial situations and need work and who they work for matters less.

For consumers, encouraging restaurant use means we get to congregate and feel somewhat normal again.

But according to a recent survey, more than half of Canadians still don’t want to be close to a restaurant any time soon, which is completely understandable. Many others, however, want to but may not be able to afford it.

So a restaurant voucher scheme could be the difference between staying home and contributing to an economy in desperate need of affection.

If such a program is implemented in Canada, the government should expect something back from operators. As a start, restaurants benefiting from the program would need to do their part by paying decent wages. A basic income or a substantial universal income subsidy would be more broadly effective, but no such program exists yet.

Menu prices would also need to be adjusted. Since June, many reports suggest that prices have gone up, not down. Vouchers could push prices higher since operators would know patrons only need to cover half the costs.

Public programs can motivate consumers to go out but restaurant operators would need to do their part as well.

Some clarity on expectations for both industry and government should be expected. All Canadians would pay for this, so it needs to be done right. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

It’s time to get creative about putting our economy back to work. Giving consumers incentives to go out safely and participate in the economy, support restaurant operators and entrepreneurs, is more critical than ever.

Many restaurant operators need help – and the rest of us could use a break from our kitchens.

 
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TORONTOJuly 14, 2020 /CNW/ - As part of its ongoing commitment to quality, sustainability and food safety, Wendy's® is expanding its greenhouse-grown fresh produce portfolio by introducing 100 per cent Canadian greenhouse-grown lettuce in its salads and sandwiches. Like the greenhouse-grown tomatoes launched in 2018, Wendy's will be the first national brand in the Canadian QSR industry to serve great-tasting, crispy and crunchy greenhouse-grown lettuce in all 384 of its restaurants across the country. All lettuce served will be grown in Canadian-sourced peat with zero pesticides.

"At Wendy's, we are committed to using fresh ingredients, whenever possible, across our menu," says Lisa Deletroz, Senior Director, Marketing, Wendy's Canada. "The move to greenhouse-grown lettuce is part of our ongoing commitment to offer Canadians the highest quality, best-tasting ingredients. We know that greenhouse farms grow produce that hits the mark for freshness and delicious flavour every time. What's more, this transition will enable Wendy's to further support Canadian producers and the Canadian economy, while offering supply predictability and consistency."

Whole Leaf, the grower of Inspired Leaves, will provide the greenhouse-grown lettuce to all Wendy's locations in Canada. Located in Coaldale, Alberta, its greenhouse technology allows Whole Leaf to capture and reduce its water consumption by over 90 per cent compared to field grown lettuce. Whole Leaf also has an onsite process that captures waste heat and CO2 at the same time, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and allowing it to be completely self-sufficient for electricity and heating.

"We are proud to partner with Wendy's Canada on its initiative to supply zero-pesticide lettuce," says Rindi Bristol, Senior Director, Sales, Whole Leaf. "With more Canadians looking for sustainable products, this strategic partnership allows us to reach Wendy's customers all-year round with high-quality fresh produce alongside a brand that – like Inspired Leaves – is committed to quality and sustainability."

The Wendy's Canada core salad line-up includes the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad, Grilled Caesar Salad and Taco Salad. Wendy's favourite hamburger and chicken sandwiches, including the signature Dave's Single, will also be served with greenhouse-grown lettuce.

To try greenhouse-grown lettuce at a Wendy's restaurant near you, visit order.wendys.com/location.

 
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TORONTO, July 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Restaurants Canada is urging reforms to the federal wage subsidy that will better help foodservice businesses rehire workers as they continue to reopen and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

At least 400,000 people previously employed in the Canadian foodservice sector are still out of work, according to the results of the latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada. This is still half of the jobs that the sector has lost since the start of the pandemic and a third of the foodservice industry’s workforce still not recovered.

“Reforms to the federal wage subsidy are urgently needed to help foodservice businesses bring more Canadians back to work amid ongoing restrictions,” said David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Federal and Quebec. “Forty-four per cent of restaurant operators who responded to our latest survey said they did not apply for the subsidy for at least one of their establishments because it would not meet the requirements.”

Restaurants need reforms to the wage subsidy to rehire more Canadians

Restaurants and other foodservice businesses are the fourth-largest source of private sector jobs in Canada. Collectively, the industry employs about 1.2 million people. At least this was the case before COVID-19 resulted in more than 800,000 people from the foodservice and hospitality sector out of work by April.

Not only was the foodservice industry among the first and hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19, the sector will also be among the slowest to return to profitability. Given this reality, Restaurants Canada is continuing to recommend the following changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program to ensure foodservice businesses can bring more Canadians back to work as they continue to reopen and recover:

  • Continue to keep the subsidy available for as long as restrictions are in place. Instead of the 75 per cent wage subsidy suddenly dropping to zero, support should be reduced gradually as businesses get closer to manageable levels of revenue variance while operating under ongoing restrictions.
     

The 30 per cent revenue decline threshold should be scaled to support restaurants in their recovery, instead of serving as a disincentive to improving sales at the risk of losing access to the subsidy while businesses are still operating at a loss.

 

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