For many people, lunch is the highlight of the working day. To ensure we enjoy the taste, preparation in the kitchen begins early in the morning. As I wanted to look behind the scenes at the MANN+HUMMEL company restaurant, I went over to the other side of the counter. I accompanied Marc Guerrero-Lustig who, as production manager of the canteen, is responsible for my lunch each day.
What does the deputy restaurant manager in Ludwigsburg actually do?
When the working population in many places is still sleepily sitting at the breakfast table, Marc Guerrero-Lustig is already taking care of their lunch.
The deputy restaurant manager is already in his canteen at six o’clock. As soon as his staff arrive a short time later, it’s ‘all systems go’. Until then, Marc Guerrero-Lustig has been baking the bread rolls and croissants, receiving goods from the butchers and bakers and making sure that everything is in its place.
Because the art of cooking is, to a large extent, good preparation. Anyone who is regularly in the kitchen knows that. The catering team at the MANN+HUMMEL restaurant in Ludwigsburg is however not cooking for a few hungry mouths but up to 1,000 people. ‘When chips are on the menu, I order 110 kilos of them’, Marc Guerrero-Lustig says. The company restaurant does not only cater for the physical well-being of the workforce at MANN+HUMMEL, but also supplies eight kindergartens and several outside companies.
Hamburgers for breakfast
The pre-cooked pasta is waiting in large colanders, the sauce is already simmering away in an even larger vessel.
Before it is time for lunch, the restaurant team is preparing a hearty breakfast for employees – hamburgers, grilled red sausages and meatloaf are on the menu. Guerrero-Lustig and his kitchen team then enjoy a small breakfast together. ‘I think this is important to maintain cohesion between us. Without team spirit, it really won’t work in the kitchen’. There is a well-established catering crew in Ludwigsburg – they all know exactly what they have to do.
The appeal of this canteen, in comparison with others, is that ‘we make lots of things ourselves’. Sauces, soups, quark, custard and salad dressings, for example, do not come out of a packet, they are made by the cooks and kitchen assistants.
They also avoid flavour enhancers such as monosodium glutamate. ‘We’re lucky here, because we don’t have to go for the very cheapest option’. The menu today includes ‘Pork loin Robert in a bacon and mustard sauce’. Guerrero-Lustig and the Head of the company restaurant Thomas Zierhut often come up with something special. During the World Cup, there were specialities from different countries such as roast jalapenos (Mexico) and Nile perch (Africa).
Every move must be just right
It gets hot in the kitchen for the cooks at lunch time. ‘Everyone has to be at their post and every move has to be right’.
Chef Jäckle is seasoning and turning the roast potatoes and browning the meatloaf. On the opposite side, chef Bieringer is boiling vegetables and fetching spinach pasties out of the oven. The rest of the team is serving the dishes across the counters. Guerrero-Lustig liaises between production and distribution of food. If possible, he also likes to serve the dishes. ‘I like to chat to people’, he says. It is important for the deputy manager to receive honest feedback. ‘It also helps us if there is any serious criticism, but people are usually satisfied’.
The MANN+HUMMEL canteen has gleamed in new splendour since the beginning of November. During the nine-week renovation, the canteen team had to improvise with food served from a side aisle. New lights, together with rearranged and more relaxed seating now make the dining room more friendly and spacious.Cleaning-up operations are already underway behind the scenes when the employees are enjoying their lunch. Guerrero-Lustig then creates menus or devises recipes in his office. Despite the fact that he spends so much time in front of a stove at work, Guerrero-Lustig also likes to cook at home – preferably at the weekend. ‘It’s not radically different. The processes are the same, it just takes a bit longer when you are making it in larger quantities’.