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    Chef transforms hotel quarantine meals into world-class dishes by deconstructing and re-plating

    Barista transforms his bland hotel quarantine meals into world-class dishes by deconstructing and re-plating crepes, lamb shanks and salads

    • Sam Low, 28, moved back to New Zealand from Melbourne earlier this month
    • He is now undergoing hotel quarantine at the Grand Mercure in Wellington 
    • Mr Low decided to bide his time by deconstructing each meal and re-plating
    • It quickly caught the attention of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and went viral 

    A barista in hotel quarantine is using his 14-day stint to transform the bland microwave meals given to travellers into world-class dishes just by expertly re-plating them.    

    Sam Low, 28, decided to make the move back home to New Zealand from Melbourne earlier this month.

    To pass the long hours in quarantine at the Grand Mercure in Wellington, the latte art and barista champion is deconstructing his meals and putting them back together, making them more appetising to eat.

    To pass the long hours in quarantine at the Grand Mercure in Wellington, the latte art and barista champion is deconstructing his meals and putting them back together, making them more appetising to eat. Pictured: A meal after it was re-plated

    Sam Low, 28, decided to make the move back home to New Zealand from Melbourne earlier this month

    Sam Low, 28, decided to make the move back home to New Zealand from Melbourne earlier this month 

    Before re-plating

    After re-plating

    A meal of chicken tenders and salad before and after Mr Low deconstructed it and re-plated

    Mr Low started his mandatory quarantine on November 4, and with one day left he says he’s surprised his isolation hobby has gone viral.

    ‘I was just… like playing with tweezers essentially and it’s blown up,’ he told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday.

    Mr Low watched on as friends underwent quarantine in New Zealand, ranking their meals and writing reviews.

    ‘It kind of started off as a joke, my friends were making funny commentary and I thought “all that could be removed if I made it look boujee”,’ he said.

    ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if I brought some plates and cutlery and made it look like I was eating fine dining food.’

    Before leaving Melbourne Mr Low was gifted a chefs knife and tweezers.

    ‘Everything kind of fell into place,’ he said.

    Mr Low started his mandatory quarantine on November 4, and with one day left he says he's surprised his isolation hobby has gone viral.

    After re-plating crepes

    Mr Low started his mandatory quarantine on November 4, and with one day left he says he’s surprised his isolation hobby has gone viral

    Mr Low has managed to make simple meals, such as pasta look like fine-dining

    Mr Low has managed to make simple meals, such as pasta look like fine-dining

    Mr Low decided to deconstruct and re-plate every single meal the hotel provided him with, quickly attracting an audience on social media.

    It wasn’t long before Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cottoned onto Mr Low’s skills and shared them on her own platform.

    ‘I started plating it and people were like… wow this is amazing, and then it got the attention of Jacinda Ardern,’ he said. 

    ‘The amazing people who work in our quarantine and isolation facilities across New Zealand do an amazing job,’ Jacinda’s post on Mr Low’s work began.

    ‘Everyday they’re working to reduce the risk of Covid-19 to everyone in our facilities, including ensuring the food is packaged really carefully. 

    ‘That doesn’t mean there can’t be a bit of creativity once a guest receives it though! Someone tagged me into the posts of @_sam_low_ , who brought his own cutlery with him so he could challenge himself (and probably pass the time too) by re-plating his meals. 

    Waffles from the hotel

    After re-plating

    Mr Low made a breakfast of waffles and fruit look like a professional five-star meal

    Mr Low decided to deconstruct and re-plate every single meal in quarantine, quickly attracting an audience on social media

    Mr Low decided to deconstruct and re-plate every single meal in quarantine, quickly attracting an audience on social media

    ‘Love the creativity, but especially love the appreciation for all our people working so hard to look everyone coming home.’

    The 28-year-old said his hobby has helped him get through the two week quarantine, as much of his day is spent on the food.

    ‘It’s so much easier now – I’ve got a full routine for everyday,’ he said.

    His day begins with a coffee, followed by his morning skincare routine before he begins re-plating breakfast.

    Mr Low then exercises in the small confines of the hotel room, showers and is ready for lunch.

    Between lunch and dinner he uses the time to relax before sketching out a plan and deconstructing his final meal of the day.

    ‘It fills me up with something to do, I have a creative outlet and it’s really good for my well-being,’ Mr Low said.

    ‘I was in Melbourne lockdown for seven months… I’m used to it.’ 

    His day begins with his morning coffee, followed by his morning skin care routine and then he begins with re-plating breakfast

    His day begins with his morning coffee, followed by his morning skin care routine and then he begins with re-plating breakfast

    Mr Low re-plated these lambshanks by patting dry the vegetables before putting them on the plate

    Mr Low re-plated these lambshanks by patting dry the vegetables before putting them on the plate

    Mr Low had been living in Melbourne for two years as a coffee trainer and had big plans for 2020 – including travelling to Italy for a scholarship with Airbnb and David Chang and competing in the NZ Barista Championship.

    But all that was put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe and Melbourne was sent into seven months of gruelling lockdown.

    ‘Thank god coffee didn’t stop because I was able to work,’ Mr Low said.

    He took his time out in lockdown to re-evaluate his life and decided to ‘live in the now’ with his family and friends rather than being so career-oriented.

    ‘There’s so many negative things around,’ he said.

    ‘This is spreading positive vibes – there’s positives in everything.’ 

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