Edgar Miranda
VP of Operations for Latin America
Gastronómica Contempo
View from the Top

Quality Catering Needed for Worker Well-Being

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 11:35

Q: How do the catering needs of your clients differ according to their nationality and the characteristics of their business?

A: Our clients can be local, national, or international. The cultural diversity present in any oil industry workplace is notable. However, it is not all based on the geographical origins of the workers themselves. The nutrition of operators, technicians, specialists or manual workers is also based on their caloric intake and on the specific nutritional needs that workplace conditions dictate. However, we do respect customs and traditions; our nutritionists look for the adequate equivalences in terms of daily caloric intake. We make homogeneous plans by taking into consideration the demographical majorities among the workforce. Are they mostly men or women? What age bracket is most represented? All of these factors are evaluated to build a nourishment plan that is based on the specific characteristics of the workforce. It is impossible to personalize the nutritional plan at an individual level but alternatives are offered so that everybody can cover their necessities. When working on an oil platform, we make caloric intake our top priority because hypertension and other chronic-degenerative conditions that develop by age forty can be exacerbated by the conditions of the platform workplace. We can prevent the onset of these conditions through the careful control of caloric intake. Sickness prevention and employee productivity go handin-hand, and a healthy diet creates healthy and productive employees. This idea expresses itself in very clear terms: a healthy employee does not need to take time off, which prevents additional expenses for any employer. Taking into consideration the learning curves and specialization involved in the oil and gas industry, employers value their employees for their unique abilities and experience, making their temporary replacement a complicated matter that most would prefer to avoid. Healthy employees are alert employees who are very unlikely to cause or be involved in accidents. All of these factors are linked to a healthy diet, and they all work towards increasing the benefits of any employer.

Q: How do you use nutrition to mitigate some potential negative physiological effects of working conditions in challenging locations?

A: It is indeed a high-stress work environment. For example, the extended periods of isolation on an offshore platform can be difficult to handle. In places like that, one of the main things to look out for is dehydration. A dehydrated employee can suffer from hallucinations that cause accidents, and from unhealthy levels of stress and emotional anxiety. Our priority is to make sure that nutrients and portions are perfectly balanced. Emotional stress that happens on top of labor-related stress is always reflected in the workplace, and we address these issues by implementing endorphin-rich food into the nutritional plans of all three daily meals. Endorphin increases the happiness level of workers, so we try to implement it as long as the food in question conforms to the set requirements.

Q: What are the unique challenges when maintaining dining rooms in the remote workplaces of the oil and gas industry?

A: Every new client represents a challenge for us. Even if we have already developed a comprehensive logistical checklist, we always see changes that make deliveries difficult. For example, to serve offshore platforms we might have to work with one local businessman who owns the entire local industry in order to buy local goods. If you do not buy from him, your materials will disappear on the way to the harbor. Regardless of established knowledge, we have to be ready to deal with the reality of local circumstances. In the end, there are a lot of situations that we have to adapt to during our first or second delivery. PEMEX offshore platforms work with an established, 31-day menu, but for different reasons that tend to be emotional in nature, they celebrate a lot. Birthdays are properly celebrated, which means plenty of special, extra-curricular requests for our kitchens that can include things like seafood buffets. We have to be prepared for such situations and we have to anticipate the future demands of our clients. We have to be very alert to these needs in order to provide an immediate response and the adequate service, even when it is not specified in a contract. We must not fail our client when these sorts of requests fall into our lap, and we have learned how to respond to unique situations. It is no use having an extraordinary menu and a great service if we cannot adapt to these basic local circumstances. These are the sorts of experiences that we accumulate and this is why our future plans always maintain a degree of flexibility.