With Christmas around the corner, restaurants are facing a challenging time. Yet, the overall mood is far more positive than during previous lockdowns. That is according to Niels van den Berg of Rungis. This is a Dutch fruit and vegetable wholesaler for the hospitality sector. "Chefs and restaurant owners are using the time to build up their business and look to the future. They're not concentrating on the current situation."
"Of course, the uncertainty is very troublesome at present. Nobody knows if the measures will still be the same at Christmas. That makes it very difficult to make decisions. You don't know if you can hire people for the lunch run. Everyone's as flexible as they can be. But no one can predict what will actually be possible."
Gert-Jan Zonneveld Piek picking Yuzu.
Chefs have become well-versed in take-away and delivery menus. "It's nice to see that customers retain their signature in this. They don't opt for simplification. These menus reflect what they excel at, with beautiful products from a refined kitchen," says Niels.
Gert-Jan in action on the Oca field
"Consumers are looking forward to this again too. They want to be truly spoiled. They want to see great products that they can't find in the supermarket on their plates this Christmas. And that is, of course, what we focus on. Exclusive products like Japanese Yuzu citrus and black and white winter truffles are particularly popular now. Hospitality entrepreneurs can truly distinguish themselves with those exclusive products. Those are aside from the entire fruit and vegetable range we already bring to kitchens every day."
"Locally-grown Oca tubers is another thing we've introduced. These originally come from Peru. But they're now being grown in the Netherlands for the first time. The oca comes in four colors: red, pink, orange, and white. All the colors taste different. But the typical fresh, crispy oca-taste is always present. The nice thing is that the product is interesting raw, to shave thinly and marinate. However, it also roasts wonderfully. We're proud to have such a new flavor available locally," Niels concludes.