Catering is not as easy as pie for Brownies&downieS

“Really nervous.” As the morning moves into lunchtime on Monday, this is the pervasive feeling on the ground floor of TU/e's Atlas building, where Brownies&downieS has opened its very first catering and education premises in the Netherlands. After all, as it turns out, years of experience with a lunchroom not far from here in the city is one thing - but on day one catering still feels a little bit new and different.

As 11.30 a.m. rolls around, one colleague is putting the finishing touch on the Brownies&downieS logo above the counter, others are taking yet another turn across the floor to check that everything is as it should be. Twenty-five year old Yaoni is seated at a table a few meters away, in conversation with the Cursor reporter but not for a minute does she take her eye off her workplace - the large steaming pans in the middle of the counter are her main focus. “I'm just about to serve the soup.”

Yes, she too is pretty nervous today, this member of staff admits. She has been working for a while at Brownies&downieS at Victoria Park. But that is a lunchroom, “over there I go up to a table to take an order. It's completely different here.” What she enjoys most about her job? “Having a chat with the customers.” Oh yes, and cleaning - Yaoni is also terrific at that, as her colleagues confirm today. This morning in Atlas she has already given the tables and counter a thorough wipe.

All the while, catering entrepreneur Robin Walschots flits with an air of restless cheerfulness between everything and everyone, getting everything just so, greeting customers and answering phone calls. Once the first bread rolls, soups and salads have been sold, she finds a few minutes of peace to sit down - until Victoria Park rings her. “I have to go over there, they are really busy.”

Read on below the photo.

A different pattern to the day

This new step into catering is also exciting for Walschots. “We are used to preparing our dishes à la minute. Here, it's mostly about doing things in advance, making sure everything is ready for when it is wanted. That creates a very different pattern to the day. And if you are suddenly faced with a hundred people, you need to have food ready for a hundred people.” And even though the TU/e crew has been carefully selected and is up to the job in a university setting that is often fast-paced and ever-changing, “It may be that at certain times things take a little longer here than they do elsewhere.”

For the time being, with considerably fewer students and employees on the campus (due to corona) things will no doubt run smoothly, she thinks. Her expectations? “Nothing big. Just having people come here will make me happy.” And so, along with the rest of the team, she is happy to use this quiet period, especially this week between Intro and the opening of the academic year, to find her feet in this new spot.

Read on below the photo.

Also in the days and weeks ahead: language lessons, so that the staff can go some way towards speaking to the partly international TU/e community in English. Yaoni already has a small head start: in the months that the Brownies&downieS lunchroom in the city center was closed due to corona, another activity she amused herself at home with besides dancing and sports was learning English on Squla.

Sausage rolls

“Big, really cool, really fun” is how she describes her new workplace on the campus. As she herself says, she does her best while she is at work not to be tempted by all the tasty, alluring food - but her giggle betrays that she doesn't always manage that. Yaoni's favorite and therefore her top tip for future customers, “The sausage rolls, they're really good.”

A little while later this last point will be confirmed by colleague Karine (on the right in the main photo), independently of Yaoni. “Sausage rolls.” She grins, “And eat them with mayonnaise.” This 21-year-old works no fewer than five days a week, two of those days now at TU/e. With the money she earns, she says she is saving for vacations and meals out.

She is happy to be back at work since June 1st, when the Dutch hospitality and catering sector reopened its doors. But that blasted one meter fifty, ho, ho, “that can be a little tricky at times.”

Yaoni, Karine, Pien and Mark of Brownies&downieS TU/e.

Yaoni, Karine, Pien and Mark of Brownies&downieS TU/e.

Brownies&downieS TU/e is open for lunch this week; As of Monday August 31st, it will be open daily from 10.00 to 16.00 hrs.

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