Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

APR 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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40 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • APRIL 2017 access. Want to watch the lettuce grow? An app on your phone gives you a bird's-eye view from your desk. Want to know when the staff will harvest and serve the lettuce grow- ing in Café 121? The app will tell you. Freeman made sure that several of the growing installa- tions — now 72 campus-wide — were positioned as center- pieces within cafes, office buildings and retail spaces. They immediately became Instagrammable design features and, more importantly, provide a visual testament to freshness, innovation and sustainability. And they underscore the potential for the creative application of technology to deliver bold new food production solutions. To date, the company has the capacity to grow all the lettuce used by one cafe (more than 14,000 pounds annually) and all the microgreens used campus-wide. With a planting- to-harvest cycle of just 28 days, Freeman foresees the day when Microsoft will be able to produce more lettuce than it needs, providing opportunities to donate excess produce to feed the hungry in the community or, perhaps, to begin of- fering nontraditional benefits to the company's workforce. That kind of thinking represents a stellar example of Freeman's commitment to serving fresh, sustainable, hyper- local foods at Microsoft, while also helping solve big prob- lems and move the industry forward. In typical Freeman fash- ion, he's eager to share the possibilities, frequently welcoming tours ranging from industry peers to visiting dignitaries. TRANSFORMATION ABROAD On-site hydroponics is among the newest and buzziest Micro- soft dining innovations, but Freeman's outside-the-box think- ing has led to many more that over the years have transformed what was once a relatively stodgy, traditional on-site dining program into a peerless trendsetter. Size alone makes the program notable. Nearly 80 percent of the company's global workforce calls Microsoft's main corporate campus home. Each day, more than 40,000 people eat in 90-plus dining destina- tions located throughout the campus, which is like a city within a city with a population totaling nearly 60,000. In Redmond, as well as at four other Microsoft campuses in the U.S., contract foodservice partner Compass Group provides the dining opera- tions. Compass also services some of Microsoft's international subsidiar- ies, which were added to Freeman's management portfolio in 2012. The largest international location, in Hyderabad, India, is home to some 7,000 employees and is in growth mode. Currently at three buildings, it's about to expand to four, and Freeman plans to bring many of the concepts and innovations that he's implemented in the U.S. to India. Hyderabad's recently re- modeled main dining operation now features a marche-style, multi-concept, cashier-less cafeteria. Staff prepare fresh, local ingredients in front of customers, and local chefs are invited to show off their talents. While Compass Group provides foodservice for most Mi- crosoft locations, Freeman also works with a handful of other contract management firms globally, from Sodexo in Paris to smaller boutique firms in countries like Ireland and Denmark. "I get to participate in the design and construction of buildings globally," Freeman says. "We have a building going up in Ireland right now where, again, we're bringing in local restaurant fare, preparing it in front of the customers, showing off the talents of the chefs. We're putting in a full bakery there, do- ing some stuff with coffee, maybe doing some coffee roasting within the cafe. So, it's been a fun expansion of the things that we've done here." He hopes to make a difference in Microsoft's performance. Some of his greatest hits stem from the notion that providing on-trend, convenient, com- fortable foodservice options on campus helps increase employee productivity. He also believes that by providing spaces where employees can gather over good FE&S 2017 HALL OF FAME // MARK FREEMAN FAST FACTS: DINING AT MICROSOFT, REDMOND 40,000+ people served daily 500+ kitchenettes 100+ local farm partners 90+ dining destinations in Puget Sound 33 cafes 32 espresso locations 25+ Market@ Stores 9 quick-service restaurants 3 full-service restaurants 12 food trucks Boardwalk, developed in 2016 in partnership with James Beard Award-winning chef Maria Hines, marks the first on-campus restaurant with a liquor license. Photo courtesy of Dining at Microsoft

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