Can Whole Foods Make Pandemic Valentine’s Day Special?

Can Whole Foods Make Pandemic Valentine’s Day Special?
This new program comes as this pandemic Valentine’s Day promises fewer restaurant trips.

Whole Foods Market is using food retail to set a romantic — and virtual — mood for Valentine’s Day.

The food retailer is launching “Gourmet Date for Good,” a series of three virtual live cook-along events to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend at home in three unique ways.

This new program comes as this pandemic Valentine’s Day promises fewer restaurant trips. According to the National Retail Federation, less than one-quarter (24%) of consumers plan to gift their loved one with an evening out, the lowest in the survey’s history. Even still, 41%  say they will plan a special dinner or celebration in the comfort of their own home.

Organized by Whole Foods Market and hosted by comedian Heather McMahan, actress Tabitha Brown and comedian Matt Bellassai, each event is designed for a different love-themed occasion, including Galentine’s Day on Feb. 13, Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 and Singles Awareness Day on Feb. 15.

Each experience will last 30­ to 45 minutes and will offer the opportunity for real-time Q&A with hosts. The collection of Valentine’s Day-inspired experiences includes:

  • Saturday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. ET: Galentine’s Day – Comedian, actress and regular “TODAY with Hoda & Jenna” cohost Heather McMahan will join her mom, Robin, and her sister, Ashley, in the kitchen while showing viewers how to make their steak crostini with basil vinaigrette sauce.
  • Sunday, Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. ET: Valentine’s Day – On the most popular date night of the year, actress and vegan lifestyle personality Tabitha Brown and her husband, Chance, will make vallops — that is, vegan scallops, combined with vegan butter and Whole Foods Market Hearts of Palm pasta.
  • Monday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET: Singles Awareness Day – Author, podcast host, unprofessional baker extraordinaire and comedian Matt Bellassai will make chocolate lava cake.

Starting Feb. 2, tickets are available for the “Gourmet Date for Good” virtual experiences by making a donation through Eventbrite to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a grassroots organization formed by chefs and independent restaurant owners that advocates for the nation’s 500,000 local restaurants and bars affected by COVID-19. Whole Foods Market will be making an additional contribution to the cause, matching all ticket donations up to $50,000.

“America’s 500,000 independent restaurants and bars are grateful to Whole Foods Market for their support this holiday,” said Erika Polmar, COO at the Independent Restaurant Coalition. “Valentine’s Day weekend — typically one of the busiest weekends of the year for restaurants — will be yet another massive revenue loss facing our industry. The donations from ‘Gourmet Date for Good’ will provide significant assistance to help ensure they can fully reopen when it is safe to do so.”

Donating to secure tickets through Eventbrite also unlocks access to a list of ingredients to purchase prior to the live event.

Seattle-based Amazon is No. 1 on The PG 100 list, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while its Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market banner is No. 24.

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