Virtual offering’ brings diners together without breaking social-distancing measures

With Singapore’s Circuit Breaker measures still in full effect, restaurants and other licensed eateries can only offer delivery and takeaway meals. This presents a challenge to fine dining restaurants such as Saint Pierre, a two-star Michelin restaurant. To meet this challenge, the restaurant unveiled 'Virtual Saint Pierre'. This offering aims to bring the restaurant’s fine-dining experience to diners’ homes in the closest possible way, without compromising on quality. The concept involves an omakase menu presented in a premium bento box. Another component is technology, where diners can enter a Zoom virtual meeting room using a link provided with the meal. Once all guests have gathered, Virtual Saint Pierre commences with an appearance by Saint Pierre’s chef-owner Emmanuel Stroobant. He will interact with guests attending the virtual party and introduce the menu's selection of the day.
Virtual Saint Pierre's Bento box
“The idea for Virtual Saint Pierre first came about when we were scheduled to host a birthday party for one of our diners on April 7. This is the day the circuit breaker was implemented," revealed Stroobant. “Instead of cancelling it, our diners were happy for us to do something different for them, and that is how Virtual Saint Pierre was conceived."

Replicating fine-dining experience online
“Saint Pierre has always been about fine dining excellence, elegant interiors and impeccable service. The challenge for us was to figure out how much of that experience we could replicate in our diners' homes,” Stroobant explained. “We also had to find a way to bring to life the sparkling conversations that diners usually have with each other when they dine at Saint Pierre. This is how the idea to use technology through Zoom came about.  It is our way of bringing friends and families from different parts of Singapore together, bonded by a shared love for fine cuisine and conversations.”  
The restaurant managed to set everything up within three to four days. After we decided on the recipes, we did a few ‘stress tests’ to make sure that the food would be perfect served ‘cold’. The presentation should remain intact even after a few hours in the fridge, Stroobant said. “We also had to look at transportation and how the food would carry, so we did a few trials by driving around the city to test the integrity and quality of the meal. We also had to do a few technical tests on Zoom to ensure the online gathering segment of the experience was seamless.”

More technology-driven F&B in the future?
Stroobant sees the value of incorporating a bit of technology in its circuit breaker-inspired offering. But he said when it comes to technology in F&B there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Depending on the nature of your F&B business, you may decide to invest in some specific area that will help your business, but it may be irrelevant to others. For instance, if you are a high-volume restaurant, you may decide to invest in software that helps your specific needs.  These include logistics, order taking, or payment, he said.
“For us, as we still rely heavily on the human touch, so we opted for whatever option is convenient to our guests. If a guest doesn't feel comfortable with using Zoom, we are happy to offer any other video chat apps like Google Meet, WhatsApp or Skype. In that sense, technology helps us achieve our goals. We use a QR code that links directly to a video to explain the menu to our guests. This is new, and I believe this practice will gain popularity as technology develops further to meet consumer needs,” Stroobant said.
He concluded: “The response to Virtual Saint Pierre has been positive since we introduced it. Many of our diners found the experience novel and entertaining. They enjoyed the social element of the experience. We are getting good feedback on the quality and freshness of the food, which, at the end of the day, remains our biggest priority.”

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post