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Food & Wellness

Last month, Gensler's San Francisco office hosted its first annual Serve it Forth dinner, which brought professionals from disparate industries together to discuss the future of health and wellness at the workplace. Image © Gensler

Great food has a singular power to bring people together and create long-lasting relationships. This was proved yet again at the San Francisco office’s first Serve it Forth dinner. With the help of Guckenheimer, a premier catering company whose highly trained chefs create menus that are not only pleasing to the palate but nutritious for the body, our growing health and wellness practice area transformed the front lobby into a beautiful restaurant-like setting with a long stretch of communal tables covered in local produce. We invited 40 guests from various industries, all of whom are extremely passionate about wellness, to join us for a three course dinner and brainstorming session geared towards impacting community health and well-being.

Well-being design has been a natural part of the way we think in the Bay Area for a long time. But more recently clients across all industries are making it an even bigger priority. From tech to healthcare to hospitality, companies are realizing they share similar goals. What’s interesting is how each sector is approaching the problem in very different ways. Given this assortment of potential solutions, it made logical sense for Gensler to do a bit of matchmaking. We wanted to gather people around a single table so they could share ideas and lessons learned, and we could all benefit from a broadening of our perspectives.

The evening started off with a short presentation by Guckenheimer’s Karla Lacey, whose company catered the fabulous farm to table dinner concept. She shared Buckenheimer’s belief that good nutrition is the fastest means to foster wellness at the workplace. Everyone has to eat, so if your company has a cafe or provides food, it is the one guaranteed way to ensure participation in your “well-being” efforts. You can not only improve employee health, but educate employees in the process and do it in such a way that makes it enjoyable.

Sam Mogannam, founder of Bi-Rite Markets, followed up with a heartfelt talk about the positive impact that businesses can have on their surrounding community. Bi-Rite’s philosophy is to treat their customers like guests in their home. That way it feels like a family, not just another store.

The speakers jumpstarted the table conversation on a variety of a topics. There’s just something magical about sharing a meal that brings people together in a very special way. It’s not just about business; it’s about inspiration, collaboration, and making new friends. Key points from the various conversations were jotted down throughout the evening and collected to be later “served forth” to all of the guests on genslerserveitforth.tumblr.com, so that no one worried about missing anything.

Conversations extended well into the evening and everyone was anxious to exchange contact information and find ways to collaborate further. Stay tuned – Gensler will be partnering with some of the guests to host future mini Serve it Forth sessions with more focused conversation on some of the hottest dinner table topics.

Image © Gensler

Rebecca Ruggles is an interior designer at Gensler’s San Francisco office. She plays a key role in the Northwest Sustainability Task Force and the Hospitality practice, translating her love for travel and the environment into green designs for the hospitality industry. Rebecca has worked closely with major hotel brands including Fairmont, Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and more. Contact her at rebecca_ruggles@gensler.com.

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