Chef Appreciation Week: Heroes Behind the Food
This year, Chef Appreciation Week takes on an even greater meaning as our Dining team’s took on the incredible responsibility of nourishing first responders, feeding essential workers and, supporting their communities, amidst a global pandemic. We are joining Compass Group in celebrating our #HeroesBehindtheFood – We are so excited to share with you the stories of our inspiring chefs and incredible teams who deserve this recognition and much more.
Northeast Chef’s Dale Lent and Nate Evans Jumped into Action
Despite their unit closing, Dale, a Marine Corp Veteran, and Nate, a seasoned Chef, have been busier than ever these last six months. With temporary closures and short-staffed units across their Division, these two Chef’s went where they were needed most. From lending a hand to a unit who was understaffed, to driving two hours each way for weeks to step in for an injured manager, these two have been the definition of a team player. Chef Dale and Chef Nate even volunteered to open a new account with our pre-pay technology, and did so seamlessly. These two have taken care of their families, their teammates, and the customers we serve throughout these uncertain times, and for that we thank them.
A Warm Breakfast for our Essential Workers
For four weeks in the beginning of the pandemic, when it was especially crucial for first responders to have quick access to COVID-19 testing, the Department of Health & Environmental Control along with the Greenville County Emergency Response Team set up a local test site exclusively for firefighters, police officers, EMS, emergency tactical units, and their families. Our Canteen Greenville team heard of their efforts and stepped in to support the best way they knew how, food. The team provided hot breakfast for the staff and volunteers for the entire month.
Patrick Smith, Haz-mat/Rescue Coordinator at Greenville County Emergency Response Team, says “Thank you to Canteen and especially their amazing employees that made sure that we had breakfast for all of our workers and volunteers each day. Everyone enjoyed the food and especially the chicken biscuits! Partnering with great companies in our community makes all of us stronger.
Flexibility and Creativity Equal Success at Electrolux
Our Southeast Dining team at Electrolux, led by Food Service Director Michael Smith, has found that their ability to adapt and be flexible has been the key to their success since the pandemic began in March. The team has been met with many challenges since then, including increased demand, staffing, and industry wide shortages. The Electrolux client initially experienced and increase in production demand, which meant an increase in food service demand for Canteen. To better serve the client, the Southeast team implemented additional services in the cafes and got creative with their menu to solve for industry wide food and supply shortages. Food Service Director, Michael Smith, has worked in just about every type of dining setting but would tell you, “The past year that I have spent with Canteen Dining has been exciting, rewarding, and challenging, but I’m enjoying the opportunity to provide for our guests.”
A Cookie and a Story Make All the Difference in Chicago
For the last five years, our Midwest Dining team in Chicago has partnered with Aunt Martha’s, a child welfare program designed to give abused and neglected children in Chicago access to a better life. When COVID-19 began occupying the news and affecting our lives in March, the children at Aunt Martha’s were understandably scared and confused as to why their day-to-day routines had to change. One such routine was their daily story time, previously a time they’d gather and enjoy a snack, was now virtual. When Canteen Food Service Director Keleigh Green Patton learned that the children at Aunt Martha’s were feeling anxious, she came up with the idea to deliver fresh baked cookies for the children to enjoy during their new virtual story time. Keleigh demonstrated the compassion that the Aunt Martha’s kids needed and for that, she’s a hero behind the food.
Southeast Dining Team Exceeds Demand
When most accounts were scaling down or closing, Chef Adam Reaves, and his team at Baxter Healthcare in Marion, NC were experiencing record sales and participation due to the nature of the client’s business. Among other things, Baxter Healthcare produces IV bags and were understandably experiencing a huge and sudden demand for the product early on. This led to additional and extended shifts for Baxter to meet the demand, and additional and extended shifts for Canteen to keep them fed. Even with the additional disinfecting and adapted services that were necessary to continue operations, the Canteen team never skipped a beat. Chef Adam and his team installed kiosks to increase efficiency of flow through the café and to aid with social distancing, as well as tents to act as make shift dining rooms to insure there was safe and adequate seating.
Northeast Traveling Chefs Go Where They’re Needed
The Canteen Northeast team of Traveling Chefs have always been an integral part of the dining team as they are relied on heavily to cover unit manager’s vacations and associate sick days as well as assisting with special projects and large catering events. Our Traveling Chef’s live with a schedule that is subject to change at any time depending on the needs of the region, however they don’t always get the recognition they deserve.
This team has always been willing to go and do whatever is needed, but during this time of COVID, our Traveling Chef Team has really stepped up. They not only continued to provide coverage, but they also took on many assignments that had overnight shifts, weekend shifts, and holiday shifts. They drove longer distances, worked longer shifts, and worked in dining units on the front lines. We could never say thank you enough to this team who went where they were needed most, and did their jobs, no questions asked.
We are humbled by the dedication, compassion, and hard work of our #HeroesBehindtheFood. To every chef and every dining associate on every team, thank you. Your passion and dedication to your work is what has allowed us to connect over a meal once again. Thank you.