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Elizabeth Chatellier: Creating Good, Clean, And Fair Food Practices In Corporate Dining

May. 3, 2018

Elizabeth Chatellier: Creating Good, Clean, And Fair Food Practices In Corporate Dining

Elizabeth Chatellier is currently the Culinary Advocate at Compass Group where she works with Microsoft Dining Services. Compass Group is the largest contract foodservice company in the world, operating in over 50 countries and serving around 4 billion meals a year. Elizabeth incorporates the tenets she learned at Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy to inform the daily food choices she puts in place within Dining at Microsoft’s Cafes, Culinary Academy, Kitchens and Events.

 

I grew up in Basking Ridge, New Jersey where my first-ever job was picking tomatoes and working the farmstand close to home. I come from a foodie family, including my father who is really into artisanal food and loves to make limoncello and other delights, and my grandmother, who inspired me through her lifelong work as a high school Home Economics teacher.

 

During college, I worked at a local YMCA alongside a nutritionist who encouraged me to look into food and nutrition as a career. I was an English and Art major at the time, and because I always wanted to be a teacher of some sort like my grandmother, I decided to also include becoming a dietitian in my studies and worked in public health for many years as a nutrition educator for low-income families.

 

Throughout that time, I was still attracted to furthering my food culture and communications knowledge so in 2011, I travelled to Italy to study at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. There, I further fueled my passion to better understand the intersection of food, nutrition, and access, and strengthened my feelings of the importance of supporting biodiversity that is good, clean, fair, and not just limited to people who can afford it.

 

After graduating, I worked as a Public Health Dietician for the state of New York's Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Program and also blogged for the Wild Oats website as part of their efforts to democratize and increase access to reasonably priced organics. From there, I worked as a Wellness Director for Compass Group and I pursued an opportunity to move out to Seattle and landed at Microsoft, where the dining team was very excited about the perspective I had gained from studying at UNISG and my work in wellness and sustainability.

 

A Slow Food Education For The Digerati

compass cafe

As the Culinary Advocate for Compass Group, education is how I am deploying UNISG ideas into the corporate world, based on the idea that it’s fun and not preachy. In America, we have a corporatized food culture that is currently not sustainable. I’m lucky to be at Microsoft where we are on a journey towards Zero Waste dining globally and Compass Group has established a partnership with Slow Food USA.

zero waste at microsoft

One of the first steps to instill a passion for “good, clean, and fair” food practices was to encourage our Executive Chefs to join the Slow Food Chef Alliance. Currently, we have 30 active Slow Food Chef members and growing. The response covers a wide spectrum. For example, some people have been talking about their gardens already. Some chefs have been living it already. For our team, it’s about exposure and being able to define and be part of the larger movement. Then there are others who don’t have a knowledge base. I’m excited to be building a culture for them that’s inclusive of everybody’s perspective. It’s about creating a love for that mindset, interacting and sharing it with people.

compass group chefs

One of the goals I am working towards is to build Slow Food purchasing power, then try to get other companies to buy in as well. I would love to purchase more directly from specific producers. The more people demand it, the more we can do. Creating demand brings better food into the providers. At Microsoft, we are fortunate to have access to technology that can support this endeavor.

compass meal

It’s a slow process that’s not going to happen overnight. We want to run a thousand miles a minute, but it’s about stepping back and taking the time to understand that before moving forward we may need to come at it with a different approach. And if that approach doesn’t get us closer to building a sustainable food system on campus, then we’ll try another way.

 

By Elizabeth Chatellier

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