21st century corporate restaurant

(photo) What a real 21st century corporate restaurant looks like!

“Fried foods, mashed potatoes from a package, ketchup full of sugar and fatty meats.”
That, it seems, is still the image many outsiders have of the food services industry in 2021. Greasy, cheap, mass-produced junk, …


What took me slightly aback was that I had to read the words above on the pages of a Flemish quality newspaper. Although… at those rare occasions when I have a journalist of these otherwise utterly respectable media on the phone, I always need to offer a bit of background on what those food services are about exactly.

That the source of these harsh words was a trendy, passionate entrepreneur with new designs on conquering a portion of that food services market for himself was less of a surprise. There has been a score of ambitious entrepreneurs in recent years who, cunning plans in hand, had to concede defeat in face of the realities of our industry. And who, often, felt the need to have a go the incumbent players in that market.

But nowhere near the infamy of this article. Because right at the bottom, in bold letters stood the sort of oneliner every journalist dreams about: “Many corporate restaurants are cancer kitchens. We offer healthy food.”

It really was there. In print. Cancer kitchens.

(photo) Compass employee preparing LiMiMotion-meal for guest with physical eating disabilities.

It really was there. In print. “Cancer kitchens.”

What a grimy word.
What a repugnant way for someone to put himself and his new plans in the spotlights.
What a denial of the fantastic work food service companies and their 15,000 employees do every day in our country.

Of course we contacted said passionate entrepreneur. To ask him politely for his apologies, but also to invite him to coffee (tea was also an option). For a peek behind the scenes of Food Services in the year 2021. The real thing, not the delusional image he portrayed in the newspaper for his own commercial benefit.
Invited him to visit our kitchens as well, we did. To have a talk with our chefs. To make small conversation about the thing that really matters: our mutual passion for delicious and healthy food.

His answer, in two short phrases, expressed his surprise that we felt reviled and his moderate pleasure at us sharing similar visions. I strongly doubt both statements.

Compass really has a cancer kitchen.

You know, although it would never occur to us to burden her with such a vile, derogatory name, we really do have a cancer kitchen!

Well, at least a few times a year we do. For a day or so. When our care specialists, nutritionists and chefs assemble to design foods specifically for those who are unable to eat properly because of that terrible disease or other afflictions.
Where we bake bread with special flavouring that gives cancer patients back their appetite. Where we come up with meals that are beautiful, delicious, healthy and edible. So people with physical eating disorders can still take in food and gain strength for their recovery, instead of languishing away and ...


The story in this quality newspaper was heavily seasoned. Perhaps to disguise the fact that the content was not so palatable!


Cancer kitchen! It blatantly ignores the fact that we are real people, real professionals too. With real kitchens, real chefs, real ‘sous’ and…
People that are not so much trained as drilled in their trade. In product knowledge, in food safety, in creativity and customer experience. People with a craft! And with passion for their profession and for the food they conjure up on countless plates every day, in difficult circumstances. Food, moreover, that is analysed and tasted before it ever reaches a customer’s plate.

Did you know for instance, dear entrepreneur and journalist, that each and every recipe we come up with is scrutinised by our dieticians as well as by a forum of chefs?
That every recipe that passes this thorough exam is analysed (externally) so we can inform our customers in minute detail about ingredients, nutritional values, allergens and even carbon footprint scores?
That pots and pans in our kitchens are manned by real chefs?

The story in this quality newspaper was heavily seasoned. Perhaps to disguise the fact that the content was not so palatable?

Anyway. If you truly want to find out what our world looks like, you’re more than welcome to come and visit. For a coffee (tea is also an option) and a delicious, healthy salad by Tom&Della’s, our own premium brand. Handmake in Eke, of all places, by real chefs!
And of course to have a chat about our passion, healthy and delicious food, and our ambition to shape the food services of the future.


Johan Poelmans