WORKPLACE AND CORPORATE DINING FOOD TRENDS: WHAT EMPLOYEES WANT
By Great Performances
We work across dozens of organizations in the New York area providing food and dining solutions that range from catered events (e.g., breakfasts, lunches, board meetings, cocktail receptions) to creating full-service office dining solutions to keep teams nourished from breakfast through happy hour.
More than that just providing food, we’ve developed a robust amenities program to keep our clients and guests engaged and excited. Gone are the days of the “school lunch” style of food programming with the same set of meals rotated endlessly, regardless of season.
Alongside carefully thought out stations, our amenities include Pop!, events and activations that create special moments throughout the space and the day; Food Festivals, our monthly celebrations of seasonal, local produce; People’s Kitchen, our guest chef program; Embrace: Wellness, our wellness program focusing on food and health; and Katchkie Farm, our NOFA-certified organic farm in upstate New York, a source of inspiration and ingredients for our chefs and provider of our Workplace CSA program.
No solution that we implement is alike, but there are common themes we’re hearing from our clients and our guest through surveys, general feedback, and meetings.
Our guests have diverse palates and they actively seek out new flavors, dishes, and cuisines. They not interested in the standard “school lunch” style of food service; instead, they’re looking for delicious variety and excitement. From Bowling Greens, our salad station which features seasonal produce, including from Katchkie Farm, our organic farm in upstate New York, to People’s Kitchen, our guest chef program, we bring a wide variety of flavors to our diners.
Our experiences over four decades have also informed our development of the right menu selections for the appropriate group of guests. We set trends and follow them. We are attuned to the range of preferences within a population at a single company or at an event.
Like our great city, each body of guests within our workplace partnerships contains a vast number of cultures, tastes, and preferences. Commonly requested cuisines can range from Mexican and Italian to Indian and Kosher, with many of the requested foods being described as “comfort food”. And while that term may not point to the same cuisine for everyone, it drives home a very important point: guests want to be comforted by the food they are served during lunch.
Classic comfort dishes rotate throughout our menus and include standards like Chicken Parmesan and Butter Chicken Curry, and more modern interpretations including Korean Fried Chicken Sandwiches and Eggplant Chermoula.
We live and work in a culturally diverse city. Our guests want flavors that represent their backgrounds and cultures and they’re looking for ways to travel to different places through food. And so we’ve developed People’s Kitchen, our guest chef program.
Originally a way to support local businesses and bring new flavors into our spaces, People’s Kitchen, led by Georgette Farkas, our culinary ambassador, has evolved into a comprehensive program through which we partner with chefs and restaurants across the greater New York City area. We feature several each month, sharing not just their food, but their story, background, and restaurant. Through this program we’ve been able to support local restaurants like Thaimee Love, Madame Vo, Hudson Smokehouse BBQ, Mimi Cheng’s, Awadh, Tanoreen, and so many others.
An element of fun and excitement were also among our guests’ requests. We’re all familiar with water cooler conversation; imagine how much more buzz and conversation there will be with a more fun central gathering point. With Pop!, we create unique “pop up” experiences designed to give our guests an exciting opportunity to interact with their food. These include chef-manned stations where we offer made-to-order items like omelets or smoothies in the morning; tacos for Taco Tuesday; or even customized popcorn in the afternoon. We also partner with vendors to bring in fresh specialty items like churros by La NewYorkina; custom bubble teas by Yaya Tea; and cotton candy by fluff + fluff. We’ve even built custom candy “shops” and DIY trail mix stations. The possibilities are endless and create a lot of buzz in the office, giving everyone a chance to participate and connect.
Guests are becoming increasingly conscious of the foods they put into their bodies. They’re looking for meals that fit within their nutrition preferences and requirements while maintaining the deliciousness for which Great Performances is known.
We created Embrace Wellness, our health and wellness program led by registered dietician nutritionist Emilia Sochovka, MS, RDN, CPT. Working with our workplace venues and our culinary team, Emilia helps ensure that the menu-writing process includes healthy, well-thought dishes designed to nourish our bodies so that our guests can feel healthy, happy, and energized. She also shares content, leads pop ups, and creates recipes for guests to enjoy.