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"It’s reassuring to know that our food is in the hands of the
largest food services company in the world. But actually, that
isn’t how it feels. What it feels like is that 14forty are totally
dedicated to us, our people, and what we need.
From the very first day we started talking to them,
they wanted to listen and understand us. Just us.
And that’s never changed."
Well, as part of the global Compass Group they have been at it since the 1940s. You learn a thing or two about catering services, food services and hospitality in that time. And they tell me that the most important thing is that it’s not just about the passion for great food, important though that is.
It’s not simply carrying out lots of ongoing research to make sure we’re happy with the way they’re doing things. It’s not just bringing in new food offers. It’s not only sourcing the finest, freshest ingredients at the farm gate, or delivering tasty and nutritious dishes. It’s about the whole experience.
It’s about making every meal time not just a satisfying break from work, but a memorable occasion. That took a bit of understanding until we saw it in practice for ourselves. Then we realised that it’s not just what the 14forty people do, but how they do it.
First of all, we see every day how seriously they take their responsibilities – in health and safety, sustainability, ethical and environmental standards, and product quality. Then we see their commitment to wellness and nutrition as part of their food services. Talk to their team of in-house nutritionists and dieticians and you start to get the picture.
A big plus for us is that 14forty’s parent Compass Group have signed up to all the Food Network pledges of the UK government´s Public Health Responsibility Deal championing improving public health. In fact they were the only foodservice provider on the government's plenary group. This means clear information for our people about a balanced diet and sustainable sourcing.
When you walk into our restaurant now, you’ll see Guideline Daily Allowance (GDA) labelling for our recipes – that’s the grams of salt, sugar, fat, saturated fat and calorie content alongside the percentage that it contributes towards a person's guideline daily amount.
In practice that means they’re leading the way in catering services, not only in providing essential nutritional information, but in reducing levels of salt and fat –
including removing all artificial trans fats – from their food. We’ve noticed that our people are eating more meals that contain lower amounts of salt and fat since we introduced GDA labelling. Which has to be good for them.
And then there’s this magic combination of consistency and innovation. Consistently high standards at all our sites – every single working day – coupled with a constant desire to stay at the cutting edge of the hospitality and food services industry. That comes from their award-winning chefs and the inspiring influence of world famous consultant chefs. They’re not content to do the same old thing, day in day out, because they know that the ‘same old same old’ just isn’t good enough.
When it comes to coffee, our people have a simple choice. They can stay on site or they can go out to one of the many really good coffee shops within a few minutes’ walk. These days, they mainly stay in. That’s because the 14forty people make sure that their catering services match the very best on the high street – in an environment where they can relax, socialise and interact with colleagues without having to put their coats on.
A lot of this is about timing. Given that our people are working so hard, when they do grab a few spare minutes, the coffee has to be not just fast but exceptional. And I know they love seeing it being beautifully prepared, poured and served – by baristas with that special touch of knowledge, personality and theatre.
Each 14forty barista gets to know their customers really well – including what time they arrive and what they order. They tell me that every cup is personal. Well, it works. Somehow, they manage to create that magical combination that keeps people coming back every day, because they know they’re going to love it.
Everyone knows it’s good to have a proper break for lunch. That must be why our deli is unbelievably popular now.
The 14forty food services people prepare fresh food every day. They have a huge variety of sandwiches and fillings to choose from. And here's the best bit – every one is made fresh in front of you, exactly the way you want it on the bread of your choice.
But there’s a lot more to our deli food service than just sandwiches. We can start the day with a healthy yoghurt granola or fresh fruit pot. At lunchtime we can choose from freshly prepared salads, wholesome soups, piping hot jackets with a choice of fillings or a hot meal ready
One thing I’ve noticed is that our people are asking for Fairtrade more and more these days. So we’ve introduced the Eatfair range of flapjacks, cookies, cakes and muffins. They know it’s the best way of making sure that farmers and growers in developing countries get a fair price and decent working conditions with 5p donated from every item sold going to help and support them.
So it’s good to see so much Fairtrade produce in our deli – from sugar, tea and biscuits to chocolate bars, fruit juices and bananas.
I read in the 10th annual Compass Group lunchtime report that the average lunch break in the UK is just 29 minutes. And it’s probably getting shorter. So we want our people to be able to make the most of any free time that they have in the middle of the day – or at any other time, come to that.
Since 14forty have been running our hospitality and food services, I don’t get complaints any more. What I do hear is people saying that they don’t really need to go out for lunch – they can stay in and eat at their favourite restaurant five days a week. They like the fact that there’s always something new to try because the menus change with the seasons. And they rave about the personal service.
They tell me it’s the extra ingredient that turns a meal into an experience. 29 minutes may be a short time, but it’s a joyful time these days. It’s one of the highlights of our day to escape from the desk for a few precious moments, sit with friends and colleagues and enjoy tasty, wholesome food that’s served with a smile.
If you’d gone up to our fifth floor a few years ago, you’d have found nothing there. It was just an empty space. We were waiting for the right opportunity to have it converted into what we wanted.
Starting to work with the 14forty food services people gave us that opportunity. Within a few months they’d transformed the whole area into client meeting suites with fine dining and hospitality service. These days our fine dining area is always in huge demand. We have top clients and business partners flying in regularly from all over the world to visit us.
The 14forty fine dining people take care of absolutely everything. They give them a warm welcome with a highly discreet service and complete privacy when it’s needed. They serve a balanced range of dishes using local ingredients and perfect wine pairings. And it’s all right here in our offices. No need to go out to a noisy restaurant with people eavesdropping.
It always comes together perfectly, and our guests take away an unforgettable experience. Our fine dining area says a lot about our company and the enormous care we take.
How 14forty Central helps us with food and hospitality