We discuss Corporate Dining with Marina at Facebook

Whether you are a student, new grad, employee or an employer, if you have not heard of Corporate Dining (which I have to confess was new to me until quite recently) you need to read this and understand what an awesome opportunity it is.

New ideas to motivate, retain and keep employees healthy are becoming main stream and essential in today’s competitive market to attract and retain talent— organizations that offer little to nothing in the way of wellness, to the emerging workforce—made up of health conscious millennials–will be deemed old fashioned and undesirable.

Don’t assume this is all about benefiting the employee, research shows that these steps to promote good health and increase morale translate to less absenteeism, increased production and reduction in health care costs.  There’s tons of research based evidence to prove these programs are a win-win!

To some, they are a win-win-WIN.  As a member of the food industry, focused on attracting young people to look at the amazing and meaningful variety of career options available–employers and employees benefit–but a whole new avenue for people interested to pursue a career in food has opened up, and the growth and popularity is undeniable.

We spoke with Marina Chan at Facebook to learn more about Corporate Dining;

Can you tell us about Corporate Dining?

So corporate dining is fascinating. We’re talking hundreds of pounds of high quality food produced every day. We work with local organic produce and products and produce 98% of what we serve in house.  Our teams rock out an awesome 30,000 meals each day just at our HQ in California.

Where will we see this trend emerging?

Right now specifically in the hot tech areas such as Silicon Valley, Seattle and Austin. Many companies are starting to offer free or reduced cost meals to employees as a perk.

Why do you think Corporate Dining is growing in popularity?

I think lots of companies are competing for top talent and the pool is small so by offering perks like on site free dining or reduced cost it draws potential candidates to that company. As we see these companies growing in size so does the culinary team.

Tell is about your role as a culinary recruiter working at the Facebook campus?

So I am employed with Flagship Facility Services which is the premier culinary services vendor for Facebook. I do a little bit of everything in my role from interviews, to job fairs, interacting with local culinary programs and giving motivational speeches to culinary students.  I love my job and I appreciate it even more because of where I came from to get where I am today.

What are the biggest challenges you face when recruiting?

My biggest challenge has been the lack of qualified candidates available in the area. All the tech companies in Silicon Valley are competing for the same talent so you really have to act quick and stay competitive in this market. I also find that it’s a big challenge to find culinary grads that have the level of skill we are looking for. You really need to be well rounded in knife skills, international cuisine as well as having good people skills.

Why would someone want to work in your team?

Growth and knowledge. Our company grows and promotes employees from within. Most people in restaurants usually have to wait till the chef or sous chef leaves before they can be promoted. Here that’s not the case. Because we are in a corporate setting our employees get a great amount of benefits and perks that you will not find in restaurants. Another great draw for a lot of people is that they will get the exposure to many different types of cuisines with a daily changing menu.

It is a global issue, but young people seem to be unaware of the opportunities available to them with regards to careers in food, resulting in a lack of qualified and skilled candidates.  Why do you think this is?

I think a lot has to do with the schools. 6 years ago when I stated culinary school the rep told me you will graduate as a chef. I hate to pop anyone’s bubble but that is far from the truth. I think setting a realistic expectation when entering a program is much better. Letting them know that they will need to work their way up. I think also a lack of higher educational schools offering formal training at higher levels of education is lacking as well. If more Universities offered classes in Hospitality Management or Culinary Operations we would see more awareness and training on the back end that takes most people years of hands on training to achieve this knowledge.

What do you think we (the industry) can do to attract more people to pursue a career in food?

I think by offering educational programs at universities would be a start, continual training and development.  A lot of people are turned away from this industry because they feel that anyone can do it. Most of these people want to express themselves creatively but also want the higher educational aspect of it (technical skills/qualifications).

Watch this YouTube presentation; you can get a real ‘taste’ of what corporate dining looks like on campus at Facebook.

Do you think Corporate Dining is something you would like to explore?  As an employer, could you see your organization adopting this ‘perk’ to attract talent?