How Chefs Are Adapting Their Menus For Chilly Outdoor Dining

Posted: Oct 22, 2020

Restaurants faced enough pandemic-related challenges in warm weather. Now they have to combat cold pasta.

A report from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. indicated that 45F (7.2C) is the temperature below which demand for outdoor dining will collapse. (In a separate report, the company projected that outdoor dining demand would fall to 5% in December before rebounding in 2021, clever design adaptations notwithstanding.)

Beyond diners’ physical comfort, the weather can take a fast toll on the food on their plate.

A cacio e pepe that may have been delicious hot will quickly turn gluey and unappetizing. “Spaghetti stays hot, until you start twirling it. The heat comes out fast from flat pastas, like ravioli,” confirms Andrew Carmellini, whose New York restaurants include Locanda Verde.

Pasta is far from the only food that suffers as temperatures drop. In response, places that range from Japanese sushi spots to elegant restaurants are changing their menus to highlight dishes designed to stay hot. In the process, sturdy kitchen-to-table pieces such as cast-iron skillets and fondue pots become as necessary as the heat lamps.

By Kate Krader
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