Corporate Chefs is making a slate of changes it hopes will appeal to the next generation of workers.
The B&I foodservice vendor has unveiled a new brand identity focused on health, wellness and sustainability—three trends that resonate with Generation Z, said Alicia Farrow, Corporate Chefs’ marketing director.
Gen Zers are “very aware of the health and environmental implications of their choices,” she said. “So, because we have so many young people entering the workforce right now, it was definitely an intentional focus to show our clients that we’re aligned with audiences that they will also be serving in the professional world.”
Here's a look at how the company is taking that messaging and putting it into action.
Robust health and wellness programming
The focus on sustainability is rooted, in part, in an effort to move past the less eco-friendly practices that were common during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plus, sustainability and wellness often go hand in hand, according to Farrow.
“A lot of what is good for people is also good for the planet,” she said. “Everybody eats— sustainability starts with food. And it's a very poignant kind of statement, but it's true. Everybody eats several times a day, so if we're choosing foods that are not good for the planet, we are making unsustainable choices.”
Corporate Chefs has adopted wellness program BeWell from its parent company, Elior North America. BeWell offers diners healthy options that are “reasonably sized,” free of trans fats, low in sodium and contain minimally processed ingredients, according to a press release.
The program either takes shape as a dedicated station or a daily menu special, depending on the site. Daily specials might be a stir-fry or deli item, such as a turkey avocado sandwich, Farrow said, and plant-based ingredients are often a component.
The BeWell programming also goes beyond the menu to encompass educational efforts. At a BeWell station, guests can often find Corporate Chefs team members providing wellness and nutrition expertise.
In addition, Corporate Chefs has incorporated BeWell principles into its catering offerings. The idea, Farrow said, is to reinvent catering post-COVID to include experimental offerings that go beyond a fruit tray or sandwich platter.
A hot shrimp scampi stir-fry, for example, might add more excitement to a corporate meeting and wow attendees, she said: “It's lively, it's engaging, it has the chef there. It’s a dish that’s already focused on wellness, so it's a good conversational piece, but it also demonstrates the wellness efforts put forth by those companies for their employees.”
Community engagement efforts are also part of the mix. At one site, a Corporate Chefs dietitian has partnered with the facility’s gym to offer immersive experiences, such as a Halloween-themed exercise class.
Doing good together
Corporate Chefs’ sustainability efforts also stem from Elior North America’s Do Good platform, a set of social responsibility guidelines that focus on responsible sourcing, seasonal menu planning and waste reduction.
Elior has also partnered with the Humane Society of the United States on a goal to make 50% of its new recipes plant-based by 2025. Corporate Chefs is making strides in this area, Farrow said, noting that many of the company’s new menu items, such as a vegan blondie for catering, are plant-based.
Another big focus for Corporate Chefs is resource conservation, which extends to its energy use as well as its food.
According to Farrow, the company takes a “waste nothing” approach, using a tracking mechanism that allows team members to monitor both preproduction and postproduction waste. The program can also be used to coach staff about sustainability practices.
“It’s good for our clients because it's also a cost-reduction savings opportunity, but it’s clearly good for the benefit of the environment, and it's a wonderful teaching opportunity for employees,” she said.
Additionally, Corporate Chefs promotes composting in the kitchen and partners with clients to offer post-consumer composting when possible.
While the foodservice provider hopes its rebranding will resonate with diners, operators have also been asking for more when it comes to wellness and sustainability, said Farrow. Some clients have sought a commitment to eliminate single-use plastic beverage containers, and as such, the company has taken steps, such as implementing Coca-Cola’s Freestyle machines or offering water in aluminum cans.
“We do have a lot of leaders within Corporate Chefs that take these two topics very seriously and apply that knowledge not just to cooking but incorporating sustainability practices,” she said. “Our operators are very passionate about these things, so … the rebrand is definitely an opportunity to tell their stories as well.”