He was a teppanyaki chef with decades of experience working at top hotels and couldn't believe it when he was told his career was to be put on hold.
Martin Lowe, a former top chef at Kabuki in Stamford Plaza and then Katsura at the Grand Millennium, said his heart "nearly stopped" when he and his colleagues were told in March they were no longer needed because the hotel was being turned into a Covid-19 isolation facility.
Lowe decided instead of switching careers, he would run a takoyaki stall full time, selling the popular Japanese street food which has bits of octopus in a dough ball, at various markets.
Victoria Yao, co-founder of the Auckland Night Markets, has received an increasing number of enquiries from restaurateurs and chefs who have lost their jobs wanting to set up stalls at the market.
About 540 restaurants have closed and 9310 staff have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, the Restaurant Association estimates.
"Many restaurants are struggling and because of the uncertainty as a result of Covid 19, they are looking at not renewing their long-term leases," Yao said.
"Instead, they are looking at running food stalls at our markets as a way to keep their businesses going until they can get a clearer picture of what's happening in the industry."
Restaurant owner Ru Tian Ou, who now runs a stall selling dim sum at the market, said he had to close his Tasty House Restaurant in Otahuhu in March.
"Our restaurant has been around a very long time, but business was hard hit since people stopped eating out earlier this year," Ou said.
"Although it was a painful decision, it made no business sense to continue, so we decided to close it in March."
Ou says the market stall came with "little risks" because "it only pays if you turn up on the night".
Renno Paul, a former head chef who has worked at several popular restaurants including Porterhouse Grill, Zookeepers Son and Applejacks, is now running Kombase, a food truck selling burgers, fried chicken and fries.
"I don't see the hospo industry bouncing back anytime soon, so having this food truck will at least give me some control and certainty over having a job," Paul said.
"There are no tourists, no students and people are losing jobs on a daily basis, and one of the first things they will cut off is dining out at fancy restaurants. But we still have a fighting chance here at the markets."
Lowe has roped in his wife and 18-year-old son to help at his takoyaki stall.
"This business is now feeding our whole family and you can say we are living from hand to mouth. But it is still better than having nothing," Lowe said.
"We live on what we make, and have cut back on many things. No more shopping and we're not going out as much.
"We will keep this going, and just keep hoping that things will improve post-pandemic."
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Marisa Bidois, Restaurant Association chief executive said people in the hospitality industry were creative and resilient.
"It is not the establishment itself that defines a restaurateur, it's the style of food they serve and the way that they serve it," Bidois said.
"The essence of 'manaakitanga' – the act of showing respect, generosity and care for others - runs strong in hospitality folk and so we are certainly expecting to see more diversification including pop ups and collaborations as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on our industry."
She advised people to stay connected to those in the know through the association's Dine Find website and foodie pages on Facebook to learn about new food experiences.
"We'd also recommend just getting out there and trying new things," Bidois said.
"Night markets, farmers markets, pop ups – these types of places are often the testing ground for new ideas and visiting them is a great way to be the first to know about them."