Celebrity chef Brooke Williamson is renowned for her culinary prowess on television shows. She won the fourth season of Bravo’s Top Chef and dominated the first season of Food Network’s Tournament of Champions. Williamson is also one of three culinary titans on Bobby Flay’s Bobby’s Triple Threat.
Outside of television, Williamson runs her Southern California restaurant Playa Provisions. Most recently, the chef landed a role as the culinary ambassador for Modern Recipe, the food experience brand from foodservice giant Sodexo North America.
Together, Williamson and Soedxo hope to redefine corporate dining with a focus on sustainability and wellness. This means a variety of chef-crafted plant-based dishes are on the way to corporate cafeterias everywhere.
“I am excited for the chance to partner with Modern Recipe to create recipes that connect and inspire their broad and diverse audience wherever they learn, work, play, or heal,” Williamson tells VegNews.
Chef Brooke Williamson takes on seasonal, plant-based fare
What can Sodexo-serviced cafeterias expect on the menu? Williamson’s culinary philosophy aligns well with Modern Recipes, which means that the menu will have a heavy emphasis on plant-based, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients.
Williamson loves to source fresh fruit and vegetables from neighborhood farmers’ markets, an approach she aims to scale and incorporate into Modern Recipe dishes.
“Fresh, seasonal ingredients are the inspiration for my California-style cuisine,” Williamson says. “This pairs well with Modern Recipe’s plant-forward and food diversity culinary philosophy.”
Along with her penchant for California cuisine, her experience on Top Chef and other competitive cooking shows will also inform her approach here.
“Competitive cooking requires both focus and creativity, and I will bring my experience to the ingredient selection and creative menu development that aligns with Modern Recipe’s plant-forward, sustainable culinary philosophy,” Williamson says.
The forthcoming menu, Williamson reveals, will embrace autumn’s bounty. “This fall, sweet potatoes and kale will be at their peak season,” the chef says. “I look forward to creating dishes that incorporate these fresh ingredients into hearty grain bowls and naan wraps.”
Modern Recipe’s approach is deeply rooted in the EAT-Lancet recommendations, which emphasize the need to increase healthy foods (such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) while decreasing unhealthy foods (such as red meat, sugar, and highly processed foods) for the benefit of human and planetary health.
Joe Ganci, President of Sodexo Corporate Services, explains that the company’s culinary team is already focused on offering plant-based menus.
“Every quarter, the team develops a menu of 35 percent plant-based and 15 percent vegetarian options,” Ganci tells VegNews. “We have developed initiatives to reduce salt, sugar, and processed ingredients and prioritized local and seasonal ingredients.”
Fostering community and wellness around plant-based food
The partnership extends far beyond the confines of a kitchen or a dining room. It aims to create a holistic food experience that fosters community, enhances wellness, and adds a new dimension to corporate culture.
“Partnering with Modern Recipe gives me the opportunity to create flexible, healthy meals for people to enjoy in the workplace,” Williamson says. “Through this, delicious and healthy food can be the reason for bringing coworkers together during lunch, improving both mental and physical wellness.”
Sodexo has worked with the Humane Society of the United States for more than 15 years to modernize its menus and animal welfare policies. The company also prioritizes environmental responsibility.
“Waste reduction is a key sustainability commitment,” Ganci says. “We have prioritized reusable packaging, followed by compostable for recyclable options, and all sites are implementing a food waste reduction program.”
Driving behavioral change
Leveraging Williamson’s culinary skills and Sodexo’s operational strength, the collaboration has the power to influence what food represents in the workplace, potentially setting new industry standards.
And the enormity of Sodexo’s operations lends significant weight to this partnership. Employing 94,000 people across thousands of sites in 53 countries, the company indirectly supports over 100,000 more jobs through its expansive supply chain.
Modern Recipe’s broader, long-term vision, Ganci says, is to innovate and elevate the corporate food landscape by helping to shift consumer behavior to embrace sustainable, healthy foods. To that end, the company has partnered with Eve Turow-Paul, founder and Executive Director of Food for Climate League.
Additionally, Sodexo is developing a virtual coaching program offering personalized 1:1 and group functional nutrition sessions specifically for Modern Recipe clients and consumers.
“With our focus on plant-rich dishes and a planetary health diet, our menus naturally lean toward being low-carbon and more environmentally friendly,” Ganci says. “In addition to our climate-friendly menu design, our long-term strategy focuses on how to nudge behavioral change.”