#MohammedHersi’s take on the ‘New Normal’


(Posted 02nd August 2020)

ATCNews’ regular guest writer and commentator Mr. Mohammed Hersi, who is also the Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation, today takes a look at the many changes the #COVID19 pandemic has brought to the hospitality industry.

In " New Normal " buffets service takes a break and enter waiter service. You are now a Royalty.

This Sunday I would like to focus on reopening of hotels and the new normal that you will encounter.

Folks, many things have had to change but today I would like to focus on how meal service has changed.

We are all used to buffets and until pre-covid lavish buffets where you are spoilt for choice was the norm. Every chef would try all sorts of displays to win your heart. Every hotel / resort will take great photos of their buffets to promote themselves.

Well sadly buffets have been identified to be a high contact spot due to the myriad of serving spoons at each chafing dish or every dish displayed. Visiting even a city hotel buffets breakfast is my favourite meal but all that we now forced to slow down.

So what is the new normal?

Most hotels and resorts with smaller numbers of guests are first going the table d’hôte or set menu way, this is a limited menu offered for a set number of courses.

Many will drop the physical menu or present a one use menu or even better contactless menu.

Folks this is how royalties are served, when a state banquet is hosted in honour of a visiting head of state you get served using a set menu with various courses. Each dish is a course and has nothing to do with studying. You see cooking and eating is an art. When you get served a table d’hôte menu you will see a 3 course menu which is bare minimum or even a 7 course menu.

A waiter will be at your service and once you sit every dish is served while you are seated and it helps you to bond with your partner or family.

Chefs take quality time to craft a set menu and trust me it is much harder than a buffet since a chef will have to be very creative to make sure that your 5 days stay no meal is identical be it lunch or dinner. You try that at home and you will find it is a herculean task.

Chefs take a lot of pride in preparing a set menu and placing items on that plate is an art. As professionals when we deliver a dish be it a starter, salad, main course or a dessert first eat with your eyes, yes eat with your eyes. Appreciate the colours, appreciate the efforts made by the kitchen brigade to create such a nice display. Please dont just dig in. Every chef’s goal is to plate what we call an Instagramable dish. We encourage you to take a photo and share with the world.

The waiter in this case is the messenger of the chef and he will stand there making face contact to see if you are pleased with what you have just seen. He will wish you Bon Appetit or simply Good Appetite.

Now many people may feel that they will be getting a raw deal matters meal portion size , if anything you are now getting a better deal where every single dish is handmade and crafted before you are served. This only happens at fine dining and boutique hotels where you pay a fortune.

You may also think that you may not get full… if you go through the courses trust me you will not have room for dessert, my favourite part.

So what is our request?

Please be patient with your waiting staff, while they will endeavour to serve you quickly you may feel that they are slow. A typical 5 course menu plan for 90 or 120 minutes esp dinner. A meal is where a family is expected to bond and this is the silver lining of covid effects . If you feel you don’t want all the courses you are allowed to skip a course.

In waiter service children, ladies and elderly get served first in that order. The host who sits at the head of the table is served last. Please keep in mind this etiquette. In the waiter service plates are cleared when everyone is done , please don’t beckon the waiter " Toa hii sahani hapa". Young ones are exempt but they learn fast.

Some resorts may opt to serve starters like soup and salads on the table then opt to set up a buffet for the main course. In this case you will no longer serve yourself to avoid the high contact touch point serving spoons . You will find kitchen staff in uniform, mask and gloves ready. You simply point out the items you want and they will plate it for you while you maintain social distance.

Folks’ live has to go on and a key sector like hotels have been closed for 5 months putting so many livelihoods and businesses at risk.

We thank you for coming out to support us and in return we promise to serve you like royalties and your investment will be patience since waiter service is considered a royalty.


Mohammed Hersi
Kenya Tourism Federation