Grill the controller! – feeding others from the tin cup

Grill the controller! – feeding others from the tin cup

Our theory derived from experience: You can tell the futuristic capability of a business by the size of its break room. So we developed the “break room index”: The punier and drabber its current condition, the lower the probability that the company will spend money on our services as Arbeitsweltverbesserer. A company that fobs its employees with only the bare necessities will even less so spend money on paint or emotionally inspiring rooms. From coffee to vegetable stew – ingestion in German offices sucks!

The usual suspects

A foil carton is a standardized piece of molded aluminum. It is filled with food at 5am which is consumed around 12:30pm by those who aren’t lucky enough to work close to a city center. It is particularly used by companies in industrial areas, far off the beaten track, and therefore far from the next supermarket.
A break room is a functional space about 5 x 10 feet, equipped with low-maintenance surfaces, a fridge, coffee machine, and – if you’re lucky – a microwave. Thanks to euphemistically exaggerated area economics, anyone bigger than size 0 has to fold up elbows and butt simultaneously so they don’t get stuck when loading or unloading the dish washer.
A cafeteria is a big, bleak room with many identical tables stuck close together. The atmosphere often is evocative of a juvenile prison. The carelessly chosen chairs move with great noise, which provides the transculturally and transnationally characteristic cafeteria background noise. The low-cost furniture serves the second purpose of time efficiency: whoever eats under such circumstances does not spend more time on it than absolutely necessary. Therefore the barely half-an-hour lunch break easily suffices.


How did we stoop so low that cafeteria, foil carton, and break room are all that’s left of food culture in our office routine?
For centuries we have sat around fires with our clans, chewed on a piece of mammoth meat for hours while gazing at the stars and telling each other stories and exchanging tales and myths. Cooking was one of the first human cultural technologies. The steady development of knives, pots, and ovens was the driving force behind our inventive spirits. Spices during the Medieval and Early Modern Age were as important as mineral oil is today. Out spiritual and cultural development has been shaped while hunting, preparing, and consuming food. And now we sit penned up in dismal rooms or desperately gobble up ramen noodles.

Cafeteria and amore

Massimo is a passionate chef and pizzaiolo. But about seven years ago he decided to put his small son Luca to bed each night rather than putting pizzas in the oven. And that is how it came that today Massimo cooks at mercateo in Köthen and prepares fresh food for up to 100 employees – for about 3 € per meal. Massimo sings in the kitchen, juggles fragrant herbs, and the employees feel like regular guests at Mamma Italia.
Only on Thursdays Massimo can hardly keep up with the crowd of customers and subcontractors that just all happen to turn up for pizza day (well-aware of who pays for a business lunch).
Form AND content… In the new employee restaurant of Ritter Sport we devoted ourselves to turning a cafeteria into an experience location to really refuel and regenerate. The restaurant is supposed to be – that was the wish Mrs. Ritter expressed – a gathering place for all employees from manufacture to administration. Our solution: a design without hierarchies, vistas of nature, warm materials, spots for regulars, one-more-coffee-drinkers, gossip groups, and lunchtime relaxers. The diversity of the furniture and its non-cafeteria atmosphere is the reason it sometimes doubles as a conference room. Job interviews take place here instead of in a meeting room.

In a sinking submarine

Already 2,000 years ago the Roman poet Juvenal knew: A sound mind lives in a sound body. Innovation, performance ability, contentment, and the basic need “ingestion” are closer related than one might think. Companies with good food provision have a lower turnover and a good deal more qualified applicants. That is not due to the food itself, but due to the appreciative attitude towards the staff it expresses.
Businesses with break rooms the size of submarine galleys suffer one fate: they drown.

27.03.2015 in