Chef McFall: Cooking Through The Pandemic


Chef Perez (left) and Chef McFall (right) pose for a photo in Chef McFall’s home kitchen as they wait for a customer to arrive to pick up their meals

For the first time in a long time, the world is feeling more and more like a “pre-pandemic” society. The fact is COVID is not over and it may not be for the foreseeable future.

Restaurants, the major victim of COVID regulations and restrictions, may never see the levels of pre-pandemic crowds.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry, 51% of adults say they are not eating at restaurants as often as they would like, a 6% increase from before the pandemic.

One local chef can attest to the difficulty of navigating the new scene of professional cooking. Chris McFall is a private chef who cooks throughout the MetroWest area.

“I’m not sure when the restaurant industry will recover fully from COVID. Equipment and ingredients are more expensive than ever and they are harder to get than ever,” McFall said.

While people are not going to the restaurant to dine, there is still the demand for restaurant-quality food. Chef McFall has had to switch from mostly catering for private events to now preparing meals for families.

“For some families, they don’t have the time and knowledge to provide both a delicious and healthy meal for dinner. I felt I could fill that gap with many restaurants starting to struggle,” McFall said.

According to the payment company Square, during the year 2022, 94% of restaurants offered contactless ordering and/or pickup for customers.

“I don’t cook at people’s houses anymore. Now I prepare food in my professional kitchen more often which saves me time and I can produce a better quality product,” McFall said.

Chef McFall’s sous chef, Gabriel Perez, has felt the difficulty of adjusting to a new era of commercial cooking.

“I do miss cooking at actual events. Being able to interact with the diners is what makes this job fun in a way. I now spend more time at Chris’s kitchen which has been a great learning experience,” Perez said.

A lot has changed in the past few years including the eating habits of many Americans. Diets such as keto and paleo are newer diets to join the popular ones like vegetarian and vegan.

“What I have seen since the pandemic has begun is the increase in the keto and other low-carb type diets… I don’t mind cooking for all these kinds of diets if it means people are trying to live healthier lives,” McFall said.

For Chef McFall, meeting each customer’s needs comes naturally for him. His wife has a shellfish allergy and his son has a peanut allergy. It is not uncommon to have a food allergy and luckily for those with one, restaurants are becoming more allergy friendly.

“When I was getting my culinary degree we never really covered things like allergies and food restrictions. I have definitely adapted to making sure everyone can dine safely,” McFall said.

Chef McFall was born and raised in Northern Ireland, where he got a degree in culinary dining degree. He spent a few years post-graduation in France and Italy learning and cooking in restaurants.

“I learned a lot growing up and studying in Belfast but cooking in France and Italy is really the first time I was immersed in another culture and that is where I learned best,” McFall said.

While Chef McFall waits for customer patterns and costs to return back to normal he hopes to keep using all his culinary skills to provide meals.