Lunch is the one meal that brings us together during the workday. Lunch Break examines how WeWork members around the world break bread.
Who you are: Joshna Luckheenarain
What you do: Catering representative for Cisco
Where you work: WeWork 15 Bishopsgate, London
Joshna Luckheenarain has an enviable job. As a catering representative for Cisco in London, it’s her duty to keep the team at WeWork 15 Bishopsgate fed and taken care of during their lunch break (while also making time for her own lunch break!). That means setting up the buffet, making it feel inviting, and then taking photos and notes to share with her team once the Cisco team members sit down to enjoy the spread.
In essence, Luckheenarain is a professional hostess with the mostest. A few years ago, she was working as a freelance food photographer and editing video for a spice kit company, but her background has always been in communication and design. That comes in handy in her current role, where she’s able to flex her interests in food, working with people, and creating beautiful setups all at once.
Luckheenarain works on the Cisco floor at WeWork, and in the process has become what she describes as a “makeshift mom” to the whole office. Between taking gorgeous food shots and making the buffet look beautiful, she still finds time to occasionally cook lunch at home (on the weekends, usually), and socialize on the WeWork communal floor.
Of all people, Lukheenarain understands the importance of taking time out for lunch. We caught up with her to learn about her meal habits, and what lunch culture looks like across the pond.
Q: How would you characterize the lunch ritual in your city and country? Sustenance or indulgence?
A: It is definitely indulgence. My floor at WeWork is rare in that we have catered lunch. We are spoiled! We get hot food delivered daily, whereas most people who aren’t on our floor go out to lunch. We are right near Shoreditch, a very trendy neighborhood where you can find a place to eat no matter your dietary requirements.
Q: What time do people generally take lunch?
A: Between 12 and 2.
Q: Time you could devote to a meal versus the average reality?
A: I work at the buffet between 12 and 2, and I have a half-hour slot between 1 and 1:30 to sit down and eat. Once the buffet is set, it’s time for me to liaise with clients [the Cisco team] and catch up with everyone. It is about having a rapport with the people in the office.
Q: What are the most common lunch meals people eat in your office?
A: From the buffet, we do foods from around the world: One day it could be Thai, the next day French. But the team particularly loves American food. They are very health-conscious, so there is a salad bar daily. But their favorite is definitely mac and cheese.
Q: Do you order in, bring food from home, or go out to eat more frequently?
A: Most days I am eating the catered food.
Q: Where do you usually eat in the office? At a table in the kitchen, on couches in an open area, or at your desk? Why do you prefer this area?
A: We [Luckheenarain and the Cisco staff] tend to eat together at an island in the middle of the office where the buffet gets set up. The whole reason they got the buffet is so it feels like a family environment in the office. I feel like I am Cisco’s mom—I baby everyone. I know this guy likes cilantro, and this girl hates parsley. I love eating with everyone else, and the nice thing is that because I am a third party, I don’t have to deal with any office politics.
Q: What are some of your favorite spots for food outside the office? What do you love about each?
- I love the hot pots at Itsu, an Asian food chain.
- Ekachai is a Thai place with amazing pad Thai. I love those flat noodles.
- Leon basically mimics Itsu, but they have lots of great healthy food options. They have a fake mozzarella wrap with arugula and cherry tomatoes—that’s the kind of stuff I love.
- When I fancy a brunch, Joe and the Juice does overnight oats with chia seeds. It’s a nice light dish when I don’t want something heavy.
But I don’t really go out to lunch often!
Q: What is your current favorite lunch recipe from home?
A: I am from Mauritius, and I love our home-cooked meals. I will do something called Chicken Fricassee. It is an amalgamation of French meets Chinese meets Indian. It is made with onions, garlic, fresh thyme, and tomatoes, and you eat it with rice and green beans.
Q: Best weekday lunch you’ve ever had?
A: Our Thai menu is great. The company I work for does coconut-based curries, like yellow and red curries with coconut rice and all the trimmings.
Q: What do you wish you could eat for lunch that isn’t available to you?
A: Funny enough, I really miss proper chips. Everything is so health-conscious, and sometimes I really want some homemade chips. It is one of those comfort foods where you can’t go wrong.
Q: Is there a culture of forming business relationships or deals over lunch in your city? Or is lunch strictly for sustenance?
A: It is not as big as it is in America, but it could happen. I don’t think it is frowned upon, but I don’t know if it is necessarily a thing people plan to do. In the UK, it would be a more structured business date.
Priya Krishna is a food writer who contributes to the New York Times, Bon Appétit, and more, and is the author of the cookbook Indian-ish.