Amid the doom and gloom associated with the coronavirus there are, happily, some good news stories to share. The common thread? Kindness, generosity and a desire to help others.
The restaurant, pub and club industry has been devastated by measures introduced by the government to restrict the further spread of COVID-19. It is upsetting to think of the jobs that are being lost and of the employers - many of whom are chefs - forcing to lay off staff that have become like family.
Troy Rhoades-Brown of Muse Restaurant was almost in tears announcing via Instagram video the closure of his popular Pokolbin restaurant.
It's an emotional and worrying time for many.
The Newcastle Herald is running a blog on the status of restaurants and related businesses. It is being updated regularly so feel free to email your opening hours, menus, services and more to email@example.com and we will share them with our readers.
A number of groups have popped up on social media, too, aimed at providing a platform for restaurants and cafes to connect with customers. "Newcastle helping Newcastle during COVID-19" is one. "Supporting business through COVID-19 - Newcastle & The Hunter" is another.
With supermarkets running out of stock daily due to overwhelming demand, now is the time to buy local and support local. Many local businesses are bending over backwards for customers in order to stay afloat as long as they can.
Mischief at Belmont South and Marks Point Post Office and Cafe are two examples of small businesses evolving into helpful community hubs by offering take-home meals and selling grocery items.
Newy Burger Co is continuing to deliver soup to Soul Cafe weekly to assist those in need and has free take-home packs of soup available for anyone who may need it, "no questions, no judgement, just a little kindness in this madness". Good stuff.
Suki Kwon from catering business Sukimama is doing it tough herself due to the economic impact of coronavirus but is helping to promote fellow businesses on Facebook page "The FOOdFIGHTERS", dedicated to keeping businesses open for as long as possible by inviting them to use the page as a platform.
Chef Steve Scott, of Queens Wharf Hotel, is encouraging people "not to throw in the towel" and instead put #TowelsOutForHospo, saying "The industry I love has taken an unprecedented hit - now it's time to show our strength and solidarity. Hang them up with pride and show your support for an entire workforce that give their all to give you their best. We will get through this and we will all come back stronger".
There are too many examples of kindness and positive, forward, thinking to list here - thankfully.
Home deliveries on rise
The Milkman's Back were ahead of the curve when it came to home delivery. Many butchers are delivering and wholesale meat distributors and caterers now dealing with the public. It's meeting (self-isolated) consumer demand.
When it comes to fruit and vegetables, Ken Royle will be delivering fresh produce to the Wallsend, Maryland, Fletcher, Minmi, West Wallsend, Barnsley, Holmesville and Cameron Park areas as of March 30. Phone or text him on 0417 296 783.
Harry Pratt is kicking off a $45 weekly fruit and vegetable delivery service. Phone 0433 681 455 with your name, address and order.
Peal Produce is another. Delivery to your door by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Troy Lockhart of Stockton Family Fruit and StocktonFresh.com is also delivering, phone 0400 695 128.
Facebook page "Our Local Farmers - Hunter Valley" is also helpful.
This list is by no means exhaustive. If you are able, research and choose to help a fellow local rather than joining the queue at one of the big supermarket chains.
Booze on the move
Even alcohol is being (legally) delivered, surprisingly. The Newcastle Hotel were first cab off the rank, offering The Newy Booze Delivery Service. Newcastle's Great Northern Hotel has introduced BYO Jug Day where you can bring a jug with a lid, fill it up and take it home with you. The Koutetsu is also planning on making cocktails for you to enjoy on the couch.
A good news story
The friendly folk at Our Taste of Greece are hoping to turn a negative into a positive. They can no longer operate out of Dixon Park Surf Club on Sundays and the catering side of their business has shuddered to a halt however Martes Kakavas is still cooking, and you can find her take-home meals at Nina's IGA at Hamilton.
"I'd love to spread the word that at this horrible time, good, new and exciting things are happening for Our Taste of Greece," she told Food & Wine.
"We are moving into Alder Park Bowling Club in New Lambton. Yep, we're moving into the 'burbs and taking over the bistro and all the catering. We won't have the ocean view but it doesn't matter. If the food's good, people will come to us wherever we are."
Her voice breaks a little when conversation turns to her staff.
"My heart is going out to my beautiful staff, they're just like my kids, you know? It's different if you're a big company and can afford to pay staff when you're not open but I can't. At least they know they have something to come back to that will be bigger and better. There will be work, more than enough work, because we'll be open Wednesday through to Sunday and we get to plan our theme nights. We're going to really get it pumping in there."
Freebie of the week
Feeding friends - and feeding yourself - is totally relaxed with Alison Roman, author of Dining In.It's not entertaining. It's having people over. An unexpected weeknight meal with a neighbour or a weekend dinner party - either way it's unfussy food paired with unstuffy vibes.
Nothing Fancy brings together Roman's effortless, stylish recipes with her love of cooking for friends and gatherings. It demonstrates how you can throw together a meal for a hungry crowd with ease and sass, covering every course.
Nothing Fancy is out now through Hardie Grant Books, RRP $45. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words "Nothing fancy" with your name, address and number to email@example.com. Entries close on Monday at 9am.