Hospo CheckIn: Paul Cooper

Chef Paul Cooper is a doer. 

When restrictions set in earlier this year, the chef/owner of Bianchet Bistro and Providore in the Yarra Valley set about developing ideas he’d been considering for a while and he has established Yarra Valley Ketchup & Pies and Progress Food (a whole food meal business inspired by his own recovery after a bicycle accident six years ago). As  these both simmer away slowly, he’s also focussing on getting the Bistro and Providore back open to a hungry dining audience. 

We checked in to see how it’s all  going. 

  1. What  have been the biggest challenges for your businesses in adapting again in the second lockdown?

The second lockdown has proved very challenging personally, financially and motivationally.

While we have developed new ideas, including Yarra Valley Ketchup and Pies, and Progress Food Company, these are always planned as long-term business models with slow-and-steady growth. 

We will continue to push these in the coming weeks and months, and I have no doubt they will prove to be a success in the future.

The assistance provided by government, while it appears healthy on the surface, is a far cry from normal trade levels. 

In the first lockdown, the JobKeeper assistance package was an opportunity for us to save our businesses and recover in a relatively quick time, but with the second lockdown, and the subsequent reduction of JobKeeper, it’s going to hurt businesses and put a massive strain on the hospitality industry. 

The rest  of the country is essentially 4-5 months ahead of us in economic recovery and I would love to see our State and Federal governments work together to extend JobKeeper here in Victoria.

Extending Jobkeeper seems logical to me, as an additional support stream.

  1. Tell us about  Bianchet Providore and will that continue after restrictions ease?

Bianchet Providore will continue after restrictions are eased, absolutely. It will morph into a providore, patisserie, selling Yarra Valley Pies, and a variety of pastries, sauces, and Yarra Valley produce.

  1. How are you, your family and your teams?                                                                                                                                                                  My teams are all working hard on the new projects. We have kept them all on full wage in a show of faith that will hopefully generate loyalty in the longer term. The kitchen team have been kept busy developing the Yarra Valley Ketchup range and Progress Food Company, along with our Bianchet Bistro at home experience.

Like everyone else, home schooling has had its challenges, but it has been fantastic to spend all the extra time with my kids and my wife.

 

Bianchet Winery