Food culture is about more than a full stomach.
As early as I can remember, I’ve been in love with food.
My parents have footage of me as a toddler enjoying a bowl of porridge with the same excitement that most people would experience winning the lottery.
My experience of food is pleasure, it’s nourishment, it’s multi-sensory, it’s sharing, it’s education and (perhaps a little too frequently in my kitchen) it’s experimentation.
By no coincidence whatsoever, our culture at Salad also revolves around food in one way or another.
First up we have Lunch Club. The idea is that if everyone throws £1.50 into a pot, we can club together to make fresh and beautiful salads and rices, toasties or pastas at a fraction of the price of the typical beige lunchbox options. But that’s just our Monday-Thursday routine.
On Friday’s we eat for free. Every Friday, Salad offers the team an hour to put down our tools (keyboards) and pick up some cutlery instead. We crowd around our beautiful hand-crafted wooden dining table and share a banquet that would make King Henry VIII jealous. Mexican food, curries, stacked sandwiches, antipasti… you name it, we’ve eaten it. We try to make the entire experience a collective one. Someone shops, a few people cook up a storm in the kitchen while others lay the table. There’s probably something to say here about some sterling team work but the truth is, no-one notices it’s happening, we’re just all working towards the collective goal of eating.
Lunch is just one of the ways we celebrate our love of food. Now in its third year, the Salad Bake Off requires each team member to create a master bake at home. They’re then scored by the rest of the team based on appearance, taste and effort. You can check out the latest scores here: http://bakeoff.saladcreative.com
After a considered effort by everyone last year, Natalie retained her crown and won almost enough prize money to cover the cost of the bake itself. Needless to say, it’s the taking part that counts with this one…
But crucially, these activities are about much more than food.
Lunchtime for some unfortunate souls is half a packet of biscuits scoffed on-route to their next meeting or a crusty chicken sandwich at their desk. We love food so we use it as a chance to pause and share time together. Food is the facilitator, but the purpose of these activities at Salad is to make space to connect with one another.
Our culture is completely unique and the experience of working in this environment is defined by our people and each new person that joins us. The ‘family feel’ culture Salad has attracts both employees and clients, and has been maintained for 16 years thanks to regular cultural rituals like these.
So the question is, do you make your lunch break a priority?
How do you make time to check-out of work and connect with one another?
Just food for thought.