StreetSmart’s Kimberley Coke and Glenn Pougnet open up about their 12 months in lockdown
I have to admit this past year has been the worst time of my life, home schooling was a challenge to say the least and confirmed that I don’t have the patience to ever be a teacher, making me dislike my kids and vice versa! It has been a very alienating time, work has dried up, family have fallen ill and I have missed escaping to London and hiding out in my favourite cafes and restaurants, working off my laptop and instagramming my food more than anything else!
StreetSmart helped me get through these tough times, warmed by the kindness of restaurants who despite the rough ride they were having, still managed to raise money for us through inventive ideas… donations of mince pies from Tom Kerridge, a giant truffle from Zak at Wiltshire Truffles, St Johns delicious pies, Madame Piggs birthday roast and the Duke Bakery sourdough to name just a few… I also approached Michelin for support and I’m proud to say we were made official partners of the Guide which shed a light on the important work we do when 30,000 people streamed the award ceremony in January.
I am very excited for restaurants to re-open and am booking al fresco terraces like a woman on a mission!
What have I learned from a year in lockdown? My glasses steam up whilst wearing a mask, I hate working from home and ground nutmeg is not an adequate replacement for chocolate digestives, Mr Ocado.
Above all, I can’t quite believe how much I miss eating out. All those wonderful restaurant delivery boxes and having the extra time to cook does not compare with the joy of visiting a top-notch restaurant and enjoying a meal cooked by someone other than myself, in a place somewhere other than my kitchen.
I miss walking into a beautiful dining room and having a cheeky cocktail waiting for my invariably late dining partner to arrive. I miss trying something new, somewhere new. I miss always ordering the chips at the Quality Chop House. I miss the smell of Gymkhana and the window seat at Cora Pearl. I miss the wine list at Vinoteca, the crockery at The Wolesley and the loos at NOPI. I miss ordering dessert I have no room for and a digestif I don’t really want. I even miss instagraming, the odd surly waiter and the bill. In short, I miss everything about the experience and it’s taken the events of the last 12 months to truly appreciate its life affirming importance. I miss drinking in a pub too but that’s like missing mum and dad. Restaurant deprivation is like missing a lover – It’s social celibacy.
StreetSmart naturally suffered as a result of the closures over the Christmas period but we’ve learned along the way how truly wonderful hospitality folk are – trying to help in spite of their livelihoods being put at risk. Not just the chefs and restaurateurs but PRs, journalists, staff and suppliers keen to support anyway they can. I’ve learned that helping their communities is a high priority to so many. It has also reaffirmed the efficiency of our regular fundraising campaign and we will need a bumper year in 2021 to make up for the £500,000 lost last time. I for one plan to eat out as much as my bank balance and childcare will allow. Bring me the Barrafina specials board now!