Mr Wälde took over management of the staff restaurant at MANN+HUMMEL in Ludwigsburg one year before Roland Hagmann, the long-time manager, went into retirement. This staffing change meant that they had to fill the vacant position of Head Chef. I was invited to interview and we were soon on the same wavelength. I really liked the set-up that Mr Hagmann and Mr Wälde had created at MANN+HUMMEL. Everything seemed very well thought-out and for both quality, hygiene and good people management has great importance.
When I joined the company as Head Chef in February 2002, there were 22 people in the team. Now there are only 15, two of whom work part-time. The number of lunches we do has barely changed, however, topping 1100 on our busiest days. That said the overall number of employees at Ludwigsburg has dropped considerably as well, so in percentage terms there are actually many more people using the staff restaurant now than in the past. One reason for this change is likely to be that both partners work nowadays and children are able to eat at school.
The change in the number of staff (from over 40 in 1964 to 15 today) has also meant we have been forced to change our housekeeping of course. The items previously purchased in bags, hundredweights or even tonnes (cabbages, potatoes etc.) are now bought pre-prepared to ensure a certain amount of convenience. The days of several employees peeling potatoes are long gone – we are using service providers instead now. ‘Just-in-time’ is the rule of thumb we apply these days, rather than stockpiling.
Changes to eating habits
The employees themselves also want something very different than before. Whereas, in the past they wanted very hearty stew-type dishes, staff now prefer healthy low-fat foods such as chicken breast and sirloin steak. Vegetarian food was added to the menu in recent years, as was ‘self-service’ pasta, which has become a great success since its introduction nearly ten years ago.
Our conference catering has also received good reviews. Here, we provide a well-balanced range of choices that meet many different needs and requirements, including different fruit juices, butter pretzels and canapés, vitamin-boosting fruit and vegetable platters and the new ‘MANN+HUMMEL snack’, containing banana, nuts and raisins, which was introduced in 2015.
The demand for healthy breakfasts and snacks is noticeable. We responded to this trend and now offer muesli, fresh fruit salad, scrambled eggs and many other options. Around 300 people buy breakfast and snacks from us every day. Our staff does of course still want something a bit more filling sometimes, so we also sell Leberkäsweckle (Leberkäse meatloaf sandwiches), schnitzels and burgers.
Both production and management staff use our restaurant for breakfast. Whether guests are looking for something to take away, for their first informal chat of the day with colleagues in one of our leather armchairs, or for a quick bite at the bar tables, there are plenty of different choices available. Breakfast often sees business and pleasure combined. A quick chat in the staff restaurant brings work colleagues together, after all – something I think is vital to the social fabric of the company.
A feel-good atmosphere
One major difference between the canteen now and back in the day is the atmosphere inside it: chairs used to be very tightly packed, but we now have a less rigid seating arrangement offering different ways to get comfortable. The staff restaurant was completely renovated in 2014. It was extended, refurnished and fitted with new ‘feel-good’ lighting and air conditioning, which should enable us to recharge our batteries even on hot summer days.
Due to the tightening up of hygiene laws, we are now investing a lot of manpower and time in documentation and further training. There are increasing numbers of regulations governing the wellbeing of employees and guests, to give you one example. The staff restaurant has been certified to reflect the latest EU Directives since 2010. This means that we are only allowed to make purchases from other businesses if they are also certified in this way. As such, the days of buying meat from the butcher around the corner are long gone.
Lists of additives and allergens
All additives and allergens have to be listed on menus since the end of 2014 in EU countries. This has come off the back of an increase in allergy rates among the population. This places more demands on our employees’ time, who would not let any negligence slip through the net.
After the early retirement of my predecessor Hans Wälde, I got to appoint my deputy and now Head Chef, Marc Guerrero Lustig, to help me juggle all these tasks. Between us and the rest of the staff, we are managing to continue the long tradition of loving what we do professionally.
Despite all the many other changes and new regulations, our own will and belief that we should offer our colleagues and guests top quality, preferably using locally-sourced ingredients, has not changed. That was the case in the past, is the case now and will continue to be the case. MANN+HUMMEL trusts us to keep its best asset, its employees, in good health, so we would like to keep this trust and deliver results at all times. It’s an honour to be able to do this for our company.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my staff, who gives everything every day to provide a highly professional and outstanding service, to thank my supervisors for their support and to our many guests, who place their trust in us on a daily basis.