Nutrition is the core of caring for people
By Cian O'Maidin

Across all of the places I’ve worked during my career, I have been subjected to varying leveIs of food quality. This makes me sad. Nutrition is one of the most enjoyable and important things in life. Food should be a celebration.

From last week's menu: tempura vegetable kebabs

From last week’s menu: tempura vegetable kebabs.

The plan

It was with this in mind that earlier this year, I wrote in this blog about a food-centred plan that CFO Fiona McKenna and I were hatching. At nearForm, we spent our first three and a half years in shared offices with no control over the food that was served. In 2015, we moved into our new HQ and it was one of our dreams that we would have nutritious food served at our office as a standard part of working for nearForm.

Fiona and I brought together a plan in summer 2015 to address this situation. First off, we brought in a nutritional scientist to help nearForm people with their nutrition and diet, and to measure the effects of a better diet on our sense of wellness and energy levels.

The chef

Now, in the next step in the plan, I’m delighted to welcome one of our newest members to nearForm: chef Mark Lanigan.

Chef Mark Lanigan at work in the nearForm kitchen

Chef Mark Lanigan at work in the nearForm kitchen.

Mark is a professional chef of 24 years’ experience who previously worked as chef de partie in the Michelin-starred restaurant El Serbal in Santander, Spain. He was sous chef in the acclaimed Munster Room restaurant in Waterford Castle and also lectures in cookery skills in local food centre Hook and Ladder. He has strong beliefs about sustainable food, sourcing local ingredients and maintaining the link between our health and what we eat. Spices and vegetarian food are key to his method. He caters for paleo, vegan, vegetarian and other dietary requirements.

Goji berries, ready to be used in salad dressing

Goji berries, ready to be used in salad dressing.

Team spirit around the table

One of the major benefits of having our own chef is that lunchtime has become an occasion for everyone to sit down together. People look forward to lunch and are more relaxed. People chat and catch up in a way that didn’t tend to happen as much before.

We’ve also set up a Food channel on our internal Slack for people to post photos, swap recipes and generally chat about food. (Our Italian colleagues are great contributors to this!)

The proof of the pudding…

Of course, the ultimate test of the food plan is whether the people around the table actually like the results. I think it’s fair to say that everyone is enthusiastic. One nearFormer was heard to say about Mark’s food: “Just wow!” Another member – who previously often skipped lunch altogether – is now known to begin asking around 12:30 PM: “Is it time to go for lunch yet?” Mark’s love of spices means that the aroma of toasted cumin, sauteed garlic and other delights starts wafting up the stairs around 10 AM every morning.

Freshly toasted cumin, an ingredient in today's lunch

Freshly toasted cumin, an ingredient in today’s lunch.

A delicious, balanced, highly nutritious lunch is now part of what it means to work at nearForm. This is part of our commitment to taking care of our staff.

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