STA, 3 November 2020 - Tomaž Kavčič, a chef running a Michelin-starred restaurant, has made an urgent appeal to prevent what he sees as an imminent collapse of the top-notch culinary industry, floating the idea of a positive discrimination as a way out of the coronavirus lockdown.
In a letter addressed to the public and decision-makers, the chef writes that the top-class cuisine sector is on the brink of collapse.
"If we let it collapse, it will take starting from scratch (...) Generations of chefs, waiters and sommeliers may disappear, become scattered at the far ends of the world or leave for other type of business," he wrote.
Despite the relatively positive experience following the spring shutdown, Kavčič, the chef of the Pri Lojzetu restaurant at Zemono Castle in the west of the country, has "the feeling it won't be the same this time around".
Talking with the STA, he said it was right that healthcare, education and other key systems should take an absolute priority and that the first job at hand was to deal with the health crisis and abide by government measures.
However, he also hopes that Slovenia as one of the first countries in the region to adopt restrictions in the second wave of coronavirus, will also be the first to restart businesses.
When the time comes, he proposes a gradual reopening of hospitality establishments where those that respect all government preventive measures and can meet the highest safety standards be allowed to open first.
"My proposal is that a group to form the needed standards and examine compliance with them should also involve experienced experts from our hospitality field," Kavčič says in his appeal to the authorities.
Creative hospitality should be recognised as "the top of the pyramid, as providers who guarantee highest standards at all levels".
Hospitality providers should be divided between those who can create the conditions to serve in their establishments, those who can meet the conditions for delivery and those who cannot meet proper standards in the given circumstances.
"It would be a positive discrimination to preserve at least a tiny bit of normality and keep in shape an industry that is becoming a leading motive for visiting Slovenia," says Kavčič.
He also called for financial aid proportionate to last year's revenue and to the headcount, a full writedown of social charges, interest-free bank loan repayment deferrals, equalising VAT rates for food and beverages at 9.5% (rather 22% for beverages) and allowing movement between regions and municipalities based on a restaurant bill or booking.
However, Kavčič says the priority at the moment is to behave responsibly so that the coronavirus situation in the country can improve.