Fooditude has been operational in Ireland since June 2021. Our executive chef Sinead Moore has worked with the team in UK to replicate the same high standards that have become associated with the Fooditude brand in the UK. She was finally able to visit the Mothership in September. We got her to document highlights of her visit.
“Come to London!” They said, “It’ll be fun!” They said…
Launching Fooditude in Dublin has been such an amazing experience these past few months, and so to finally get the opportunity to head to the Mothership in South Bermondsey, London, and meet all the team that I only knew through a screen, was exciting to say the least. The week’s agenda was shared and unfortunately set to the song ‘werewolf in London’ in my head, which just suggested a pandemic induced lack of grooming.
But then nervous panic kicked in the day before I flew – I started to stress about checking in, booking a taxi to the airport, navigating the London transport system, even packing a wash bag!! Did I have enough masks and sanitiser? How many people lived in London!!?? Lockdown anxiety had arrived and decided to come along for the trip!!
Everything was going fine, and I got myself to London Bridge without incident, where all I had to do was walk outside and meet Matt and the dotty van. And then it fell apart. What’s the story with GPS not working on the streets of London? By the time we found each other I was a hot mess of stress, anxiety, nerves and excitement. Not exactly the way you want to introduce yourself to new colleagues.
My saviour from the streets showed me the ‘old’ building, around the corner and explained how the business outgrew 2 kitchens before taking on Ilderton. Arriving at the yard, the funky graphics of the Fooditude building and the fleet of dotty vans were a very welcome sight, followed by an emotional reunion with the Clarehall Crew; Alex, Susi and of course the main man himself Dean. Jason kindly looked after the Covid Health & Safety Induction, masks and sanitiser provided, followed by a whirl wind tour of the Mothership and all its glory!! Chef’s Office, Main Office, The Meat Locker, The Wheatsheaf, The Fryer, The Truck Stop, The Chiller…
Alex had the honour of giving me the official tour and to say the space is impressive does it no justice at all. A purpose-built kitchen, designed by the team that work in it, is the dream of any chef. From receipt of deliveries to dispatch of meals, everything is set with the practicality of the task in hand, complete efficiency in mind, and ensuring food safety processes are easy to follow. Encouraging the team to work smarter not harder!!
First day done, and time to hit the streets and get lost again, it would appear my GPS decided I was in much need of a walking tour of London. Now I do like a good city wander, just not while dragging a suitcase. I decided to end my strained relationship with the GPS and go old school, i.e. ask for directions from a barman. Problem solved; hotel found!
Day Two and the heavens opened, and torrential rain fell on London, which I did suspect I may be held responsible for bringing with me from Ireland. Although the day was not a planned kitchen day, the rain resulted in having no option but to get into uniform – the only dry clothes I had. I never thought I would miss steel toe shoes and hairnets, but to get into whites instantly made me feel comfortable and secure, ready to take on the day’s busy schedule!!
The day started with a full HR Fooditude induction with Bijal, learning about the story and culture of Fooditude; their vision, mission and values. Their ethos around sustainability, diversity and inclusion, training and development gave me the sense that the team are just as important as the food produced and customers they serve.
Moving onto Susi, Fooditude’s Development chef, to go through menu content, how they write a menu for the FUEL & Buffet offer, recipe entry onto Caternet, dish specifications and kitchen spec sheets, and managing Dynamify. I had the pleasure of working with Susi in Dublin, and her passion for food and flavours is a joy to be around.
I was back with Jason for the afternoon for a crash course in the labelling solution, menu signage and covering the Food Safety and Health & Safety procedures that are in place to ensure everything is being done to keep the team and the customers safe.
The Marketing team, Cristina & Swati also took the time to explain how their department runs, what the involvement is with kitchen ops, what marketing will be needed in Dublin, social media training, brand guidelines etc. Also, a chance to talk up Fooditude’s sustainability credentials and expectations.
It was a lot of information from a lot of people, and yet everyone was so friendly and engaging, that it was less overwhelming than it should have been. Questions were asked and answered, jokes were made, laughs were had, and knowledge was most definitely imparted. It seemed the only thing missing from Matt’s agenda on Tuesday was dinner and a glass of wine, so I took the executive decision of pencilling them in myself.
Day Three and Four I got to spend with the core kitchen crew as they prepped breakfast, lunch, fuel offers and Dynamify orders for their clients. There was also hospitality to prep and serve – buffet lunches to canape events. In the middle of all this was an external Food, Health and Safety audit, and the team received their very well-deserved SALSA accreditation, passing the audit with flying colours. I felt privileged to work with these guys and be part of their team, hear their stories, learn about their work systems and schedules and do it all with a banging sound system courtesy of Julie!!
Starting to feel ever more comfortable wandering around London (PS – the GPS and I did not resolve our issues and are not getting back together) I checked out Borough Market as recommended by several people and was not disappointed. Meat, Fish, Cheese stalls, Bread and Bakery stalls, Fruits, Vegetables, Greengrocers, Bars and Restaurants, Beer Shacks, Wine Bars and on and on… It reminded me why I love to see new cities and explore everything they have to offer. The Lockdown Anxiety was most definitely quashed when I gave directions to a tourist outside of Borough Market, no longer the hot mess of nerves that jumped in the Dotty van on Monday as if it were a getaway car!!
Day Five teamed me up with Colin, logistics manager extraordinaire as he took me through every step of the process for the dispatch of food from the kitchen to the clients. With a fleet of 10 dotty vans travelling around London on a daily basis, military organisation is required to ensure every customer receives their order on time and to the consistent standard that Fooditude is known for. The exceptionally knowledgeable Colin then treated me to a personal tour of London city as we delivered the FUEL lunch offer to Netflix.
Alison and Antonio were on site to talk me through the operational aspect of the business at the premises of each of their customers. It was very evident that Fooditude take great pride in their exceptionally high customer service standards. I got to meet some of the team that work on site with the clients and once again, the importance of valuing your team was showcased. Even though these staff are not based in the Mothership, they are all very much part of the Fooditude family.
The week was busy, to say the least, and now that I have seen the London operation in action, I am eager to bring what I have learnt and implement it all at the Sistership in Dublin. To maintain Fooditude’s Mission, Vision and values by putting focus on the food, the customers and the team.
Before leaving London, the ever-important team building and moral boosting experience of ‘having a few drinks’ was called for, and in this post pandemic world of not having had a big night out for nearly 2 years, it was very welcomed!! It is very clear that social events are an important part of life at Fooditude, and to be given the opportunity to get to know everyone in an informal and casual setting is invaluable to someone joining a big team. You get to develop relationships beyond polite emails, connections are strengthened and a sense of comfort between the team is established. A ‘well-oiled machine’ took on a whole new meaning in the Flat Iron Square!
“Come to London!” They said, “It’ll be fun!” They said.. and, as always, Fooditude delivered!!