With the UK’s restaurants under lock and key, many of them face an uncertain future. New research polling 250 independent restaurant workers and 2,000 adults have revealed that 90 per cent of these establishments have faced the risk of permanent closure at some point during the Coronavirus pandemic.

British meal kit and recipe box retailer Gousto launches a campaign Cookstarter. The campaign aims to support  Britain’s diverse food culture by helping independent restaurants thrive during the pandemic. Chef Gizzi Erskine, long-term ambassador Joe Wicks MBE, and comedian and self-confessed foodie Katherine Ryan have joined hands in the campaign.

People are encouraged to nominate their favourite local restaurants and UK-based independent eateries into Gousto’s Cookstarter campaign before 7th February.

Following a nationwide search, the campaign will see five much-loved independent restaurants receive £10k-worth of funding each. They will also be provided with a year-long business coaching support programme, spanning finance, marketing, HR, and product development from a dedicated Board of Mentors at Gousto. The program has been put together by CEO and co-founder Timo Boldt.

Alongside the year-long support programme, Gousto will collaborate with the five independent restaurants to create new recipes inspired by the restaurants for customers to enjoy at home. Every time a subscriber orders a Cookstarter recipe, they will be able to ‘tip’ the restaurant’s team through the cashless tipping solution TiPJAR.

Chef and restaurateur Gizzi Erskine commented: “For so many of us, the joy of dining is all about discovering new foods. We’re lucky to have such a diverse food scene in the UK, but this is at risk with independent restaurants having been hit hard in the past year. Diversity is at the heart of Britain, and our food culture is a huge part of that. We must pull together, show our support and stand up for the foodie gems that make this country so unique.”.

The campaign will go one step further to benefit the industry by encouraging people to donate to Hospitality Action. This charity supports all workers in the UK hospitality industry.

Research shows that 97 per cent of restaurants have had to pivot and adapt to the changing times. Sadly, with a substantial financial cost, 86 per cent have reported reduced profits, making it a tough year to stay in business.

Restaurants have had to adapt to changing regulations and fluctuating demand, with over half reducing their menu size in the past year, restricting the customers’ meal choice. Despite this, food wastage is at an all-time high.

But the country’s food culture is loved by many, and hunger for culinary diversity remains high. For most people living in this country, the UK’s unique food scene is one of their favourite things.

A massive 79 per cent of diners believe that independent restaurants are what makes Britain’s food scene so unique. Many would like to be able to do more to help them during this difficult time.

Kathryn Huxtable, Director of Food at Gousto, commented: “One of the best things about the UK is the variety, diversity and vibrancy of our amazing food culture. It’s so important that we rally together to preserve it.  We want mealtimes to be full of adventure and discovery, which is why we want to play our part to ensure independent restaurants can survive and thrive through these troubled times.”

Angus Pride, Owner of Independent Restaurant Peru Perdu in Manchester commented: “It inspires hope to see the UK recognise the value of independent restaurants and champion our success after a difficult year. Funding is important, but the year-long mentorship offered by Gousto will be so helpful. It will provide the restaurant owners with the tools needed to overcome these challenging times and continue to provide the UK with the incredible food variety that we all value so much.”

Gousto’s Cookstarter campaign supports Britain’s diverse food culture by helping independent restaurants thrive.

You can Go to goustocookstarter.co.uk to nominate your can’t-live-without local restaurant by 7th February, giving them a chance to receive much-needed support.

Follow the campaign via @GoustoCooking #Cookstarter.