Written by Certified AllerTrainer, Victoria Zelefsky

restaurant covid 19

Back in early June, MenuTrinfo released a brand-new course aimed at training restaurants how to open (or reopen) in this new world. This coronavirus has affected nearly every area of life and the food industry in particular took a massive hit. Restaurants and university kitchens in particular are struggling to determine how and when to open safely. 

Delivering Confidence is a new course by MenuTrinfo about training food service workers on handling COVID-19. A group of AllerTrainers jumped on a zoom one afternoon to learn about this new course. The three-hour long training ended up being an incredible webinar filled with brainstorming, positive and constructive conversations, and a whole lot of learning. I just knew this training would be incredibly helpful and essential to restaurant workers.

Montgomery County, Maryland

Before I could even begin promoting this course, a restaurant in Montgomery County, Maryland reached out for allergy training. They were in the process of reopening and anxious about making sure they had all the proper certificates needed. In Montgomery County, Maryland it is required for at least one person at all times on staff to have an ANSI-accredited food allergy training certification. This went into effect in 2017 and so I trained over 30 food service establishments in just a few months. 

I let the owner know that I would be happy to come and train AllerTrain. I also mentioned it would be important to do so in a small group due to COVID. He was immediately understanding and mentioned it’s hard to work now when no one knows much about the coronavirus. I sent him over some information about Delivering Confidence and my quick one-hour training turned into a two hour one.

Small Class Size

Normally as a trainer I am eager to train large groups all at once. Now with social distancing and wearing a mask paramount to public safety, I was hesitant to do a live training. When I spoke with the owner, we both agreed upon a class size of 2-3 people including myself. Because of the language barrier I knew they’d get more out of a face-to-face training with me.

I arrived at the restaurant and was immediately comfortable. It was impeccably clean and had clear signage posted right at the door regarding masks. It’s incredible how much comfort one can associate with a few visual triggers. The owner and executive chef were the two students in my class and the three of us sat six feet apart and shared a cup of coffee. When it was time to teach Delivering Confidence, I had print outs of the most recent county mandates and a slideshow presentation prepared.

The class was mostly information they already knew from reading the news but there were some key takeaways. Both the owner and executive chef did not know much about the ways they can keep their staff safe as well as all the symptoms. There seems to be a ton of news about keeping diners safe but not much in tips to keeping workers in a small kitchen and restaurant safe. 

The most beneficial thing about the class was the discussion. As a small group of food service professionals, we were able to talk through ideas, qualms, and strategies. We all left feeling confident and refreshed when handling COVID-19.

Online or in-person?

While most things are going online from school and work to family gatherings and happy hour, there’s still something to be said about in-person trainings. MenuTrinfo’s new course Delivering Confidence has a wealth of knowledge anyone taking it online or in person will learn. From carry out and delivery to rewriting menus and best sanitation practices, it’s jam-packed with helpful tips and tricks. This can easily be taken online and would be a great benefit (especially at only $7) to anyone feeling overwhelmed. 

In person classes should remain small and socially distanced. They should be only when those present are comfortable and can also be held on an outdoor patio if at all possible. The benefits to meeting in person are having a live trainer and a discussion with the trainer and your colleagues. It’s also really therapeutic right now to sit (albeit socially distanced) with other people and actually talk through solutions. 

Overall training in Montgomery County in late June 2020 was a refreshing, eye-opening experience for me. I left with renewed gratitude to hard-working industry professionals and feeling confident I passed along helpful information. If you or someone you know would benefit from a COVID-19 restaurant course, check out Delivering Confidence online or reach out to us at info@menutrinfo.com to discuss setting up an in-person training where possible.

Stay safe and healthy,