Ana Sortun Reflects on the Industry in Boston

By Ana Sortun | Jaclyn Warren


Ana Sortun
Jaclyn Warren
An illustration of Chef Ana Sortun
An illustration of Chef Ana Sortun

Dear Boston, 

This time has been one of the biggest challenges of my life and career. I’m certain that the same goes for you and yours. I’ve never been very good at feeling wobbly or new at something. I’ve never been very good at pandemics or take-away. In fact, I’d never tried either before. I’ve felt as if a big wave has washed over me and left me full of more fear than I had room for. I had fight, I had flight, I had freeze. But I’m in it. I’m crawling through it. Still. 

Some of us cooked for hospitals. Many of us jumped on take-away and managed success of it immediately. More than a few of us are closing and not coming back. A handful are still soul searching. The lucky ones now have more outdoor seats than they ever had indoors. ALL are re-organizing while we worry about our staff that cannot collect, who pay taxes but receive nothing. We take care of each other. We’re good at that. We have to be. 

As customers deal with our quirky new take-out systems, it does feel like we have a little space, a little more time, and that wage gap between FOH and BOH has momentarily closed—FINALLY. We must ensure that it stays that way.  

These past few months, I’ve learned more about this city of amazing chefs, cooks, and restaurateurs than I have in years. I’ve admired so many of your passionate voices through advocacy. I’m in awe that you can still lead during a time when we have no leadership at the highest levels and no answers from those in charge. I’ve listened and learned about your experiences through Zoom and Town Hall and Instagram. I’ve spent less time texting and more time talking on the phone, like the old days. There’s an urge to push for a stronger sense of community and to not suffer the consequences of a lost one. We’ve helped each other. We’re good at that. We have to be. 

None of us like putting food in a box. No matter what you do, it looks better on a plate than in a plastic container. But, I feel a sense of purpose again. We find creative ways of doing what we can, knowing that it’s not going to be like this forever. We rest assured that restaurants are too important to a vibrant city like ours. We’ll see our dining rooms full again. We’ll hang on. We’ll adapt. We’ll change. We’re good at that. We have to be. We’re Boston.

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