Posted at 7:00 a.m.
The caterer With Pleasures is teaming up with three renowned chefs to bring fine cuisine to the office… with the support of artificial intelligence.
Ricardo, nutritionist Isabelle Huot and Frédéric Morin, from Joe Beef, have put together gourmet meal boxes for David Carrier’s company that will be delivered directly to businesses – further proof that the pandemic has sparked creativity and the combination of talents.
“Our whole industry has been really damaged,” notes David Carrier. Many caterers have fallen in battle. »
At the height of the pandemic, he had closed his catering service Agnus Dei, dedicated to creative events, and had transformed With pleasures into a delivery service of meal boxes to the homes of employees, for virtual events organized by companies.
During the confinement, With pleasures had occasionally supported Ricardo for the delivery of his lunch boxes. The caterer was already working with nutritionist Isabelle Huot to create healthy meal boxes. The Joe Beef restaurant, like so many others, had resorted to home delivery.
“All these people were thirsty to find new ways of operating post-pandemic, notes the entrepreneur. They were ready, they felt like trying something new. And me, I said: “I may have an idea”. Our catering business meets the catering business and there is an equation that is made. »
The equation is all the more timely as companies and urban revitalization organizations look for ways to bring their employees together in enthusiasm. “The scheduling of the return to the office must be interesting,” emphasizes the entrepreneur.
“We go a little further”
David Carrier’s business now finds itself at the crossroads of fine cuisine, virtual catering (ghost kitchen) and home delivery like DoorDash and Uber Eats, he says.
“Instead of being mainstream food, which they do very well, we go a little further in terms of gastronomic complexity and the complexity of logistics, because we are structured to deliver 2000 boxes across Quebec. »
It is thus transforming itself from a high-volume caterer already experienced in digital technology to an online platform on which its customers can order fine dishes and follow their progress.
David Carrier marks this reorientation “7 degrees to the left” by changing his corporate name Avec pleasures Traiteur to Avec pleasures Chefs caterers.
In addition to its own usual dishes, the caterer offers half a dozen meal boxes for each chef, with formulas and prices varying according to the occasion.
For an employee meeting, you might want to put down $19. While for a meeting with your board of directors or with your best customers, you might want to put on some $53 Joe Beef.
Each box is identified with the chef who is the author.
“For example, you will be able to eat a meal served with natural wine that comes from the Joe Beef menu, with the blue and white napkin placed at the bottom of the box, as they put under their dishes. We try to approach the restaurant experience as closely as possible. We’re expanding the chefs’ dining room, that’s kind of our dream. »
The selection of dishes was made together, “but it really starts with the chefs: what they feel like serving, what they are proud of”.
With the contingencies of delivery, however.
“Even if I have Joe Beef, we won’t deliver a sizzling steak to the office,” he says.
The training of the caterer’s staff and the start of production were carried out in close collaboration with the chefs, which was an opportunity for real personal encounters, he explains.
Going from 150 employees before the crisis to around twenty at the worst of the pandemic, the company’s contingent has risen to around sixty people. Its seven refrigerated trucks give it a radius of action covering the greater metropolitan area.
The large-scale preparation and quick delivery of dishes that chefs usually make in small batches required adjustments.
“We invested like mad in logistics,” notes David Carrier. We are made like a parcel company. We follow the trucks by geolocation, people receive a text message when the trucks are ready. »
The preservation of the cold chain is a critical element of the service. To achieve this large-scale performance, he hired a chief technology officer and two programmers. “We use artificial intelligence to increase freshness,” he explains.
It makes it possible to best synchronize the preparation of food and the movements of the delivery people – a way of culinary just-in-time.
“That’s what I sell to my bosses. »
David Carrier is already simmering an expansion of his activities. Other chefs will soon join the adventure, he mentions without further details.
“We are building something that will be fun. »