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Chef makes gourmet meals accessible through automation

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Chef Drew Munro and Brad Pommen, the founder of SMRT1 were thinking of collaborating long before the Coronavirus hit North America. Pommen designed the SMRT1 kiosks with touchless interfaces and Chef Munro is the founder of UpMeals. The two saw an opportunity in busy office settings, for employers looking to provide meals as a perk, and as part of a corporate wellness program. 

Chef Munro spoke of the inspiration, “I had a master plan: take a ‘normal job’ in an office, save up some money and eventually go to Europe to work in Michelin starred restaurants, come back home, and open up a restaurant here. You know, in that experience, that I had working at that office environment, that’s actually where I got the idea to start this venture, because there was such a demand. So I started an office lunch catering service there at the office where I was working, which then became quite busy and quite successful. And that spawned me with this new entrepreneurial spark to create this catering company.”

A part of the appeal was the space and cost-savings advantages of a kiosk compared to catering or full cafeteria services: Providing a way to keep staff and employees safe and healthy was another. Pommen saw how healthy food kiosks already had a foothold in Fresh, Vancouver’s version of “Whole Foods Market.” 

“UpMeals partnered with a number of different locations. That’s a place to get not only the sandwiches, but also offer other marketing and advertising for specialty products. But then, Upmeals are also servicing the offices of software companies where there’s 100 employees. This is a perk of three meals a day that they supply for corporations.” 

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