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Lessons from the dabbawalas

Eurest | Great food |  26 February 2013

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IF YOU PAUSE FOR A MOMENT, AROUND 11.30am, IN THE VAULTED SPACE OF MUMBAI'S CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI TERMINUS, THEN IT WON'T BE LONG BEFORE THE DABBAWALAS BEGIN TO SWARM.

Thousands of these porters pour into the station every day, with hundreds of thousands of cylindrical metal lunch boxes — or tiffins — tied to bicycles, strung on yokes, loaded on pallets and balanced on heads.

It’s an incredible sight. All the more so because what looks like chaos, ends with office workers all over Mumbai getting a hot, home-cooked meal, delivered to their desks, every day, for a matter of pence. Individual meals, collected from home or from a restaurant, arrive steaming fresh and on time. It’s a marvel of logistics and human ingenuity with an incredibly low error rate. And it means workers get nutritious food provided in a convenient and cost-effective way.

In fact the thali meals inside the tiffins are beginning to gain a bit of traction in the UK, with entrepreneurs around the country seeing the appeal of both the healthy food they contain, and the dabbawalas that deliver them.

It’s just one of a long line of new and delicious food experiences that are available to us. A walk down any high street will tell you just how much choice there is out there. And with food trends constantly evolving out on the street, why should it be any different at work?

Take the growth of Central and South American food, for example. What started with Mexican tacos and burritos is heading south, and Brazilian food is one of the next big things to make the leap from world cuisine to the UK menu. With the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, and the Olympics there two years later, the country and its food will be getting a lot of coverage from here on in. And if people like it, why shouldn’t they get it?

At Eurest we believe in delivering tasty world-cuisine choices at work, but in a way that works for you too. This might be through pop-up menus, each delivering a different cuisine, or expansions to our range incorporating the full spectrum of flavour that’s out there, from global street food sensations, through invigorating Mediterranean and Lebanese-inspired salads, to exciting twists on fish and meat — gourmet hot dogs and meatballs, and delicious ‘Fish Market Friday’ dishes.

While a full-blown churrasco BBQ in your restaurant might be a little tricky logistically, people-pleasing world food trends are something we’ve already incorporated into our approach. And, of course, like the dabbawala service, you’ll get it hot, fresh and with that touch of individual choice.

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