Put a jab on the menu: chefs call to arms

20th August 2021 | Eativity editors

Tired of watching the hospitality industry suffer from ongoing lockdowns and restrictions, some of Australia’s best creative minds have teamed up with hospitality’s best-loved chefs to plead with people to do the only thing that will save their industry – get vaccinated as soon as possible. The campaign, aptly called “Put a Jab on the Menu” kicked off with a powerful 60-second film featuring many of the industry’s best-known faces.

You can’t overcome empty tables

Incredibly, the entire campaign was pulled together in just three weeks and cost nothing to make. One hundred percent of time and talent was donated by some of the industry’s best. Every chef and restaurateur that was approached instantly signed on to participate and help get the industry back open. Every week of lockdown is costing the hospitality industry $428 million in lost bookings and events in Sydney and Melbourne alone.

One of the first to lend his influence and support to the project was acclaimed chef Guillaume Brahimi, the campaign’s industry ambassador.

“Chefs and hospitality workers are resilient people,” he says. “We have to be, because what we do isn’t easy at the best of times. Whether it’s a small suburban Thai restaurant, a country pub, a cafe or a 300-seat fine diner, every person who works in hospitality does it because they want to bring happiness to people by service or food… But, regardless of our shared passion, there’s one thing that we can’t overcome, and that’s empty tables.”

Put a jab on the menu ambassador Guillaume Brahimi
Guillaume Brahimi: “This time around could be what breaks them.” Image: Ben Shirley

A star-studded cast

Although lockdowns made filming a challenge, the chefs who appear in the campaign are from right around the country. Support from across the industry has also been unanimous.

Chefs featured include Matt Moran, Danielle Alvarez, Neil Perry, Maurice Terzini, Anna Ugarte-Carral, Frank Camorra, Victor Liong, Shannon Martinez, Adam d’Sylva, Ross Lusted, Jacqui Challinor, Alex Munoz Labart, Massimo Mele, Nick Holloway and Morgan McGlone.

“I’ve been speaking to so many of my friends in hospitality,” Brahimi says. “This time around could be what breaks them. Takeaway doesn’t make money for restaurants not set up for that. They’re doing it mainly to keep their teams busy, and for mental health.

“Vaccination is the only way to save our industry and open it up again, without restrictions. If we don’t get it done, we’re going to lose some amazing businesses.”

Put a jab on the menu: Matt Moran
Matt Moran is just one of many famous foodie faces that features in the campaign Image: Ben Shirley

Telling their own story

Put a Jab on the Menu was the brainchild of David Nobay, an award-winning creative director, artist and writer with more than 30 years’ experience in marketing. Some of his closest friends and relatives are in hospitality, and he was witnessing the devastating effects on them first-hand. He saw that the answer to re-opening was simple: encourage the people who care about Australian restaurants to get vaccinated.

“I believe weaponising your immediate tribe to tell your own story about COVID’s impact is going to become increasingly vital in our community,” Nobay says. “It reflects an authentic charisma that can’t be recreated by a government committee, however well-meaning.”

Put a jab on the menu
Restaurants across Sydney and Melbourne sit empty. Image: Ben Shirley

A labour of love

Much like the chefs they celebrate, this project has been a labour of love for the many creatives involved in bringing the campaign to life. Perhaps no one more so than the film’s director, Susan Stitt. She owned two-hatted Sydney restaurant POND in the nineties. This was the restaurant that launched the careers of Brahimi and Peter Gilmore.

Alongside Nobay and Stitt, the campaign benefited from an amazing team of collaborators, who gave their time at no cost. Key players include Will Alexander, founder of Heckler, the production company which helped produce the entire campaign; and Jeanine Bribosia, founder and director of The Cru, which has overseen all publicity and the media rollout.

Make sure you watch the video and share it with your own tribe. Ask them to put a jab on the menu and help save our hospitality industry.