In many people’s lives, their work life is more than just a daily grind to earn a paycheck. Finding fulfillment, satisfaction, or even support from co-workers, a job well done, or simply accomplishing a goal is the sum of many parts. The silly commercials about the hangry distractions might get laughs, but a well-balanced, flavorful meal that breaks up the workday can and does make a difference.
Sodexo added its Modern Recipe concept to its workplace portfolio, the idea was more than just another quick food option to be gobbled up in between meetings. The concept goes deeper into how food sparks a conversation on and off the plate. When the company added Williamson as a culinary partner, the idea was to bolster the program’s commitment to culinary creativity and wellness. Produce forward, climate friendly, and innovative flavors are a key focus to this modern workplace food initiative.
During a conversation with FoodSided, Brooke Williamson shared her thoughts on her contributions to Sodexo’s Modern Recipe, why accessible flavorful, well balanced dishes are essential, and why sharing a meal together can be that spark to a bigger food conversation.
While many people have enjoyed a spectacular meal at Playa Provisions or have marveled at her culinary offerings on various food television competitions, this partnership with Modern Recipe highlights a concept that Williamson has always infused into her cooking.
She said, “Modern Recipe is a sustainable, healthy produce forward food concept and it feels very authentic to who I am and how I creatively develop food. Born and raised in California, I grew up going to farmer’s markets and had a family who always ate very healthy.”
“When I create in my head, I think produce first. I think sustainable, local ingredients. Being able to develop recipes that are geared toward people eating healthy food on a regular basis in their work environment takes the guesswork out of what people have to prepare for themselves."
While the Modern Recipe offerings are far different from the brown paper wrapped sandwich that dad might have grabbed from the canteen, the dishes are what the modern-day workforce craves. Even if some of the ingredients and flavor profiles might not be part of their weekly dinner plan, it hits the right balance of familiar and pushing them out of their comfort zone.
For Williamson, the starting point is simple. She said, “it all starts with enjoyment. Eating something new that is surprisingly delicious sparks a conversation. Sharing a meal together, even in the workplace, sparks a conversation. There is something about sitting down, sharing a meal, and taking a break is a moment where people are doing something to nourish yourself.”
Even though it might be a workplace setting, the conversation does not have to be TPS reports or the unexplained noise on that teams meeting. As many people have come to appreciate, food can be that connector.
Williamson made a poignant analogy regarding an idea that is common in the restaurant industry, family meal. Through those conversations, connections that might not be apparent on the surface can be discovered one bite at a time.
She shared, “we are all walks of life in the hospitality industry. There is no other industry that compiles such a diverse group of people and we become a family. I think that a similar experience happens in the workplace. Most of us spend more time at work than we do at home with our families. Treating that work environment like a second home feels like a natural thing to do. Food plays a huge role in that conversation and providing a nourishing meal supports that concept.”
Looking at the recipes that Williamson brought to Modern Recipe, they are meant to nourish the body, mind, and soul. While some home cooks might not be familiar with forbidden rice or do not often use farro in their cooking, there are enough connections to other dishes that make these recipes approachable. In addition, the vegetable forward concepts could inspire new approaches to the dinners that people cook at home. Overall, it is another layer to everyone’s food story.
While that long workday might seem overwhelming, having nutritionally dense, flavorful food that helps offer a moment to recharge and reset might be the optimum solution to a more productive workplace. Sometimes the simple solution is the one that makes the biggest impact.
Modern Recipe by Sodexo focuses on food that feeds out best selves. Brooke Williamson is one of the program’s ambassadors and has created several recipes for the concept.