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HI, BEIJING, I’M HERE!
Foreigners in China
By Cool Han

What is it like to feed 15,000 of the world's high-profile athletes, coaches, trainers? Grant Farmer, ARAMARK foodservice manager in the Olympic Village will share his insights with you.

“Yes I’m in charge of the Asian section, as you see it”. Grant Farmer, one manager of ARAMARK, catering contractor for the Beijing 2008 Olympics answered my question with confidence and smile. It was a rehearsal in the Olympic village where thousands of clients came into the catering center having lunch simultaneously just to test the “holding capacity” of this center.

Flied to China from Philadelphia, headquarter of ARAMARK just four days ago, it seemed to me that he had already got used to the new working environment in the Olympic village. “There are about three or four hundreds foreigners come across the world working here in the Olympic village. They are from everywhere, US, Canada…” And Grant is just one of them. As a manager, he shouldered the task of clarifying everybody's responsibilities in his team to ensure good service.“My daily routine will be to manage the food preparation for all the athletes in the Athletes’ Village. The most challenging part will be to make sure the food is prepared, delivered and served to the athletes in a timely manner.”

Black hat, blue shirt, interphone in hand, sunny smile on the face. Grant Farmer stood in front of his Asian Section in the catering center waiting for all kinds of questions from hundreds of his customers having lunch there. During our talk a Chinese young man came up to Grant and asked where he could get Roast beef. “By the way, are you from India?” He looked at Grant’s bronze-colored face. “Me? No, I’m from the United States.” That guy’s curiosity and wild guess definitely puzzled Grant, but he was pretty sure that “Chinese people are excellent and very nice people”. I’m sure he will soon be getting on well with his Chinese staff.

Beside foreign managers, all the Chinese faces behind very single counter, no matter Asian, Mediterranean or International, are college students majoring in cooking who joined Olympic service as assistants. Those polite, energetic and diligent young men and women, like their managers, all have charming smiles when they serve you and answer your questions.

Grant told me that ARAMARK has been chosen by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games to provide catering services for the Olympic Village, two media centers, and two media villages during the Olympics and Paralympics. So he and his colleagues are at the heart of the Olympics, literally. However, there are few things that could specifically reflect this company’s signature. They wear the same uniforms, provide standardized food and most importantly, they are no longer themselves—they represent Olympics.

During the two months period of the Olympics and Paralympics, Grant and his colleagues in the village will supply 3.5 million portions of food for the Olympic Village. During peak time they will serve 100,000 portions a day.

Being named to the 2008 Olympic team might be one of the biggest honors of his careers, and the opportunity to work with in such a unique setting will be exciting.

“Within my company you have to apply by application to be accepted and they choose the best applicants for the positions that are needed. My company chose me because I was the most qualified for the position that was needed for the Olympics.”

His favorite sport is American football and he likes a lot of ethnic dishes. Not surprisingly, he also found the food here in Beijing very good. He hoped to experience as much culture and the landscapes of both China and the Olympic communities as he could. But he told me he would work about five to six days (per week)and has little time to enjoy himself. “Yes I may have the chance to watch some games. But it depends.” He turned back and took a look at his staff––he definitely put his work into the first place.

So, let’s talk Turkey. When the athletes arrive in the Olympic Village, it will be the start of real business. Will they get any complaints from their clients? 12 years ago in Atlanta, the Australian team told the food service team that they “were going to get fat because the food was too good.” (Was that a complaint?)

Will our caterer meet all needs of 15,000 of the world's high-profile athletes, coaches, trainers? Will the foodservice operation be the talk of the village? “I'm confident about myself and my teams to provide the best quality service to the worlds athletes cause we are some of the best employees that our company has to offer.”

And there are always people asking whether the 2008 Olympics will be a success. Grant’s answer was: “Beijing Olympics is to be one of the best Olympics so far, with plenty of hard work and lots of fun.” And my answer is, seeing is believing. Welcome to Beijing and see it yourself.


北京我来了
 
   为世界上一万五千名顶级运动员,教练员提供餐饮服务会是什么样子? 格兰特•法尔蒙是爱玛客公司(北京奥运会餐饮服务提供商)的一位餐饮经理, 他会和你分享他的看法。

    “没错,正如你所看到的,我是负责亚洲风味的。” 格兰特•法尔蒙用自信和微笑回答了我的问题。他是爱玛客公司的一位经理,他们的公司承担了此次北京奥运会部分餐饮的运营和管理工作。那天是奥运村的一次预演活动,数千名顾客同时到奥运村主餐厅就餐,以此测验餐饮中心的承受能力。

 
    四天前,格兰特刚刚从美国费城爱玛客公司总部飞到中国。但是在我看来他已经完全适应了奥运村全新的工作环境。“大约有三四百名来自世界各地的外国人在这里(奥运村餐饮中心)工作,比如美国,加拿大等等。”而格兰特正是其中的一个。作为一名经理,他的责任就是确保团队中每个人都各负其责,为顾客提供高质量的服务。“我的常规工作就是为运动员村的所有运动员准备好食物。工作中最具挑战的部分就是要保证食物按时准备、送达并服务于运动员。”

    黑色工作帽,蓝色衬衫, 手握对讲机,面带灿烂的笑容。格兰特•法尔蒙站在亚洲风味区前面,等待回答中午过来进餐的顾客的各种提问。我们聊天的时候一个中国男孩子跑过来问格兰特哪里能找到烤牛排。“顺便问一句,你是印度人吗?”他看着格兰特古铜色的脸问道。“我吗?不,我是美国人。”那个男孩子的好奇和大胆猜测让格兰特很是疑惑,但他对一件事很确定:“中国人很棒,也很友好。”我想他和他的中国员工一定能很快就相处得很好的。

    除了外国高管层,不论亚洲,国际还是地中海风味,所有柜台后的员工都是中国人,他们是主修烹饪的中国大学生,在奥运村提供助理服务。和他们的上司一样,这些彬
彬有礼,勤勉又活力四射的年轻人在为你服务和回答问题时总会面带怡人的笑容。

    格兰特告诉我说,爱玛客作为北京奥组委指定的餐饮供应商之一,负责奥运村,两个媒体中心和两个媒体村的餐饮供应。因此,格兰特和他的同事确实身处奥运的“中心”。然而,在奥运村里并没有什么可以凸现公司品牌的东西。他们统一着装,提供标准化食品,更重要的是,他们不再仅仅是他们自己—他们代表了奥运会。

    在奥运会和残奥会的两个月间,格兰特和他的同事将会在奥运村提供3,500,000份食品,在高峰期每天要提供100,000份食品。

    成为奥运团队中的一员也许是他职业中极大的荣誉,有机会在这样的场合里工作也会很让人期待。“在我们公司里你首先要提交申请,公司会依据职位选择最优秀的申请者。我想,公司选择了我是因为我是这个职位最合适的人选,而这个职位又是奥运会所需要的。”


    他钟情的运动是美式橄榄球,他钟情的食物要有民族特色。所以,他喜欢上北京菜一点也不让人觉得意外。他希望能有机会尽可能去体验中国和北京奥运的文化内涵与景观。但是他告诉我他一周要工作五到六天,确实没有多少时间留给自己。“是的,也许我能有幸去看几场比赛。但也说不准。”他转身看了看员工—他还是把工作放在第一位。

    所以,还是谈点真格的吧。当运动员在奥运村入住后,一切就真的开始运作起来了。格兰特他们会受到顾客的投诉吗?12年前亚特兰大奥运会上,澳大利亚队就曾告诉负责餐饮的服务人员说“由于饭太好吃,他们都要长胖了。”(这算是投诉吗?)

    我们的餐饮提供商能够满足世界上一万五千名顶级运动员和教练员的全部需求吗?餐饮服务能够在奥运村受到好评吗?“我对自己和我们的团队充满信心。我们一定能够为各国运动员提供最好的服务,因为我们都是公司中最为出色的员工。”

    与此同时,也有人一直在问2008年北京奥运会能不能成功举办。格兰特的回答是:“零八年奥运会将会是一次空前的盛会,大家付出辛劳,收获快乐。”我的回答是,百闻不如一见,请到北京来。北京欢迎您。
 
 

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