Roughly every 2 months, Xpirit organizes an innovation day. One of our core values is sharing knowledge, and innovation days are one of the ways we foster knowledge exchange, innovation, and collaboration between our colleagues. On May 20th, we held another one of those innovation days. Xpiriters from the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany came together at Van der Valk Hotel Duiven, in the east of the Netherlands.
There was a special reason why we chose this location… It is the area where Marcel and Roy live, and together with Martijn, they often follow cooking workshops at Kookstudio75 in Wehl, in the same region: beautiful Achterhoek.
It was there at Kookstudio75 that the idea was born to cook dinner for all our colleagues as part of an innovation day. Mind you, this was a few years back already when Xpirit was around 25 people, which would easily fit in the dining room of Kookstudio75. As things go, we were busy with other things, time passed, COVID happened, and before we knew it, Xpirit was over 70 people in three countries, and growing.
But the ambition was still there, and together with Natascha, we decided to go for it. Under the guidance of chef Marco Derksen of Kookstudio75, we designed a 6-course menu plus amuses and sweets with accompanying wines and started preparation.
While looking for a location for the innovation day, we landed in Duiven at Van der Valk hotel. Not only did they have a nice large conference room, but adjacent to it there was a live cooking kitchen that was not in use at the time. We asked whether we could use the kitchen as well, and the answer was “yes, of course”.
This was when creativity started flowing… fueled by the enthusiasm and can-do mentality of the hotel’s manager Kim de Klerck and Olaf Walther’s (Studio OOM) endless ability to turn any idea into something awesome.
Quality without compromise is one of our other core values. That mindset resulted in a complete experience with our own restaurant concept called “Le Chef et les Ops” complete with a logo designed by Roy, chef jackets, specially designed runners, menu cards, and wine boxes made by Olaf.
After months of preparation and two evenings of mise en place, a kitchen brigade consisting of Marco Derksen, Alex Peters, Antwan Bertssen, Ralf de Rijcke and Xpirit’s Marcel de Vries, Martijn van der Sijde and Roy Cornelissen served the 9-course dinner with the help of Kim’s excellent team.
Xpirit wouldn’t be Xpirit without some geekiness. The titles of our courses were IT references, and we open-sourced our menu’s recipes in Cooklang in a GitHub repository.
The dessert was a special case… We thought it would be fun to have our logo in edible form. At first, we thought of parfait, which later changed to ganache. We quickly found Chocolaterie Puur Geluk, who would be able to make these, but they needed moulds. After several iterations, Olaf came up with a 3D version of the Xpirit “X” made out of wood. Roy replicated the logo a few times in plaster and made moulds from that using a thermoform machine, to be filled with orange-colored ganache. The result was a unique dessert with an amazing taste.
Everything was photographed by Suzanne Kemper and captured on film by Timur Saglambilek from Marketingtuig.
We think we surprised our colleagues and treated them to a great dining experience. It was an unforgettable experience for us as well, being fanatic hobby chefs. 64 times 9 courses was a whole different ball game. With the help of the whole crew at Kookstudio75, Van der Valk hotel Duiven and Olaf Walther, we did it!
A big thank you to everyone involved and all Xpirit colleagues for a fantastic innovation day.
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