Napoleon is reported to have said “An army marches on its stomach.”. Over my years as an office manager, I have come to appreciate just how true that is. If you ask me what is my most stressful time, then without a doubt I have to say it’s the days leading into and over the course of management meetings. Annual planning meetings, corporate retreats, company review – call them what you will, but this time, when the entire top management descends onto one location demanding care is among the things I find the hardest to deal with. Let me add that this is not due to the people being difficult or unreasonable – it’s just that different people coming from different parts of the world, each with their own particular needs and preferences means so much more attention has to be paid to detail.

On these occasions, to my mind, the single biggest challenge is food. We all want to be good hosts and to ensure that the people are looked after, but this has never been easy. Well till now that is – let me tell you why.

Last week we had the Calsoft annual planning event for which all the members of the senior management from India, as well as the US, were in attendance. The meetings took place over 4 days and there were about 30 people to take care of over this time. Now, usually at times like this, I would be worried about things like:

  • How can I provide clean, hygienic food?
  • How to provide variety over the course of so many lunches and dinners?
  • How to allow for variations in individual tastes and cuisine preferences – veg or non-veg, Indian or international?
  • How to order right – over-ordering means waste and under-ordering means someone goes hungry.
  • How to ensure that the process of set-up and post-meal clean up does not take up too much time and is not too messy or effort-intensive?
  • And perhaps most importantly how to maintain a high-enough standard in keeping with the quality image of the company’s brand?

In the past I have tried several imperfect solutions – pizza & sandwiches are just not interesting food and ordering from a restaurant for 30 people is just a nightmare for me as well as those who have to eat the food. Pretty much no one gets what they want to eat and everyone is just that little bit dissatisfied. Well, this year I tried Haus Khaas – and I am glad I did.

For one – you can order individual portions so I could circulate the list of available items for each day in advance (it’s a pretty long list) and ask people for their specific preferences. Based on what they indicated I ordered only what was needed. There was tremendous variety visible over the 4 days – everything from Chicken Biryani to Sukha Mutton Kolhapuri and Veg Lasagna to Undhiyo was ordered and happily consumed. The Haus Khaas food is cooked by home chefs in their own kitchens only on order so there was never even the slightest hint of low quality or poor hygiene – in fact, many people appreciated just how much like eating at home the whole experience was. I am sure they meant that as a compliment.

For me and the organizing team, another big benefit was how the food was served – each dish came specially packed in its own eco-friendly container that apart from looking classy made the job of serving and clearing up extremely easy. I’m sharing some pictures of how the food looked over some of the days – as good as can be.

Someone once told me that after even the most lavish marriage what people remember the most is inevitably the food – I think it’s the same with corporate meetings to some extent. As an office manager there are any number of things that can go wrong at such high profile occasions but I am happy that with the help of the talented home chefs of Haus Khaas I was able to rest easy that at least on this occasion the food would not be one of them.

 

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The Lament of an Office Manager – Feeding the Meeting
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