Tastes like home: why TAIF-NK likes its canteens?
Realnoe Vremya report from behind the scenes of the catering system of one of the most technologically advanced oil and gas processing companies in Russia
At the end of February 2023, at the final board meeting of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov criticised the organisation of catering at the republic's production facilities. The reason was the results of the audit of the Rospotrebnadzor Department, which revealed numerous violations. Although TAIF-NK does not appear on the list of violators, Realnoe Vremya decided to find out how things are with catering in the company's three canteens.
Rustam Minnikhanov: “People should eat well”
On this, the rais of Tatarstan focused the attention of the management of companies of the republic on the last day of winter — during the board meeting of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
“Every specialist is worth their weight in gold to you. There are two things: it is mandatory — this is a professional medical examination... and the second is public catering," Rustam Minnikhanov stressed.
The rais of Tatarstan warned that the work on quality control of catering in the republic has been carried out and will continue:
“We will continue this work. It was my initiative. Don't mistreat people! We are able to provide high-quality nutrition to people. This is the health of our people. This is also the stability of the work of your enterprises," he emphasised.
What are you doing here?
The appearance of media representatives in the very first canteen — the one that works under the management of TAIF-NK JSC, seriously excited the visitors of the institution:
“What are you doing here?"
This question was asked more than once in a few minutes. The words that they came to see and tell about how the canteens of the company work not really calmed the employees of TAIF-NK.
“We will not let our canteens offend! We have the best cooks. Delicious — like at home. They always greet with a good mood. And it's cozy here, like not in every cafe," the company's employees told us.
After such an introduction, probably, the mission to “audit” the company's catering system could already be considered completed. No one will defend a place they don't like so fiercely. But it was not for nothing that we went from Kazan to Nizhnekamsk. We continue! Since the visitors themselves engage in conversation, the first question to them was: why do they love their canteen so much?
“Comfortable, clean, neat, delicious. No, not like that: very delicious! And I really like it," Aygul Yakupova, an employee of the accounting department, was a little embarrassed.
“It doesn't even occur to me to bring any jars or bags of homemade food here to the Department. What for? There is such a variety here every day! You look at the menu and think: yeah, I'll definitely take this today," her colleague Olga Shuvaeva laughs.
Experts admit that they come here with pleasure. Every time the choice is not easy: the menu is rich, and they want to try everything.
“There are amazingly delicious fresh porridges, casseroles, dumplings! The women cook amazingly deliciously. The products are fresh. Pastry is wonderful, just out of the oven," Olga Shuvaeva shares her impressions.
Difficult, but interesting
It's impossible to get into the backstage of the canteen just like that. They won't let you in. The reason here is not in some secrets, but in the fact that where it comes to food, cleanliness should be — as in the operating room.
An exception was made for the Realnoe Vremya team. But with reservations: to wash your hands, put on snow-white robes, shoe covers, do not approach the products and do not touch anything.
Elena Burundukova, the head of the canteen, undertook to accompany the media representatives herself.
“There are three canteens at TAIF-NK JSC. The first one, at the refinery plant, was opened back in 2006. And it is the smallest. Recently, we've carried out not just repairs, but reconstruction in it. Another canteen is at the Management. It was opened in 2013. On the territory of the HRCC, the canteen was opened in 2014," she explained the organisation of food system.
The manager knows the whole “cuisine” of factory catering not just from the inside, but thoroughly: she personally took part in the opening of the very first canteen, then, with the approval and support of the company's management, organised the creation, equipment, inventory, and selected staff for the other two.
Products for production (as the employees of the factory catering system themselves call their canteens) are purchased through electronic auctions. But there is a point: the price-quality ratio must be perfect. High-quality products and raw materials are always the priority. The manager monitors this personally and on a daily basis. Contracts are concluded with proven large suppliers.
Each facility has its own production manager. Lyubov Plaksina has worked in the canteen at the Management since 2010.
To the question: “is it difficult to feed hundreds of people every day”, she confessed honestly:
“It's difficult (laughs) but that's what's interesting — the fact that it's difficult. And it's always nice to feed people and hear thanks in return. The secret is to do everything with soul — as for your family. Professionals work here. And everyone strives to do everything as well as possible.
An interesting point for gourmets: each canteen today has its own distinctive menu. It is impossible to meet at the servery what was served yesterday. And as for the variety, then... please! It is huge!
“We work on collections of recipes and dishes. These are canteens at an industrial enterprise. All is according to GOST. But we have something to offer," in the course of the conversation, Lyubov Plaksina and Elena Burundukova took out thick volumes of recipe collections from the shelf. “Bookmarks for portions, technical process are fully described here, and we do not deviate from them. Although we allow ourselves to replace ingredients according to the interchangeability tables: for example, fresh tomatoes instead of tomato paste, or cooking porridge with the addition of condensed milk to make it tastier. Here is a collection of dietary nutrition. Here is a collection of national dishes. And it's not only Tatar, Russian dishes, there are dishes of all nationalities here! And we are happy to cook them for our visitors. And this is only part of our collections," the leaders admitted.
I immediately remembered the advice on how to choose the most interesting books in libraries. Judging by the heavily used state of these publications, the collections do not know peace. Which was confirmed to the journalist:
“These books are very interesting, they are flipped through 10 times a day (laugh). I always want to cook something new! The menu is compiled daily for the next day. We gather together with the chefs and discuss what we will cook. We also have our own developments, which our visitors loved very much! For example, “zucchini in honey sauce”, “pink salmon under a cheese and protein cap”, “cutlets with seafood” and many others.
Canteen visitors also do not stay away from the issues of menu elaboration. They are offered new dishes on trial, and if the novelty is in demand, they are included in the assortment of a canteen.
The main thing — with love
If you cook with a good mood and love, then the dishes will definitely be delicious — the employees of the canteen are sure.
Alyona Timofeeva, in the relatively recent past, a cashier with a culinary education, today works in a direct specialty. By the way, it was simply impossible for the group of Realnoe Vremya to pass by the flour shop. Such aromas are stronger than a guiding star.
“I just always liked baking. My grandmother was the head of a canteen, and I always helped her as a child. She always baked delicious pies. And somehow it came to me that I wanted to do this. I asked Elena Anatolyevna. And she believed in me!” without looking up from modeling pies with apples, the craftswoman told about herself.
In the next shop (cold snacks) at this time, work is also in full swing: salads are being created here. It's hard to believe that hundreds of servings come out from under one hand. Aliya Valieva does magic here.
“The best thing in our work is to bring joy. That the client is full and satisfied is the most important thing for the cook. And the difficult one? There are no difficulties when you do everything right.
Elena Abdulkhakova has worked as a cleaner at the production for the sixth year. As the head of the canteen says: “It is she who most often gets numerous thanks from the visitors of the canteen.” They hand over the plates to the sink and say thank you. By the way, we also asked her to evaluate the quality of cooking from her professional position.
“See for yourself: there is almost nothing left in the plates. There is no secret here: our cooks just cook very tasty. We have a bucket here — we collect the leftovers for the dog. It looks like the dog will be hungry today," smiles Elena Abdulkhakova.
With a smile and kindness in the soul, cooking and serving delicious dishes, sharing a piece of good mood with people who come to eat delicious food — probably this is the meaning of the work of the canteen team!
Cooks need to become those who love to cook
Rosa Nagumanova, the head of production at the HRCC canteen, is sure of this. This year is her anniversary — exactly 10 years since she has worked here.
And as for choosing a profession, she knew whom to become from school:
“I have loved cooking since childhood. Already in the 3rd-4th grade, I cooked salads and soups myself, so I have had a love for cooking since childhood. In general, it is necessary to go into the profession of a cook by vocation. Then everything will be a joy! And we convey our mood to the prepared dishes! And, therefore, to people! When we meet guests at home, they are welcome, aren't they? It's the same here. In our profession, this is very important.
Natalia Bulashova also enjoys her work. She has been working for the 7th year as a cook of cold snacks shop of the HRCC canteen.
“It is necessary to not only cook, but also beautifully serve what you cook! I decorate the dish — and enjoy! And when people appreciate it and say thank you, it's doubly pleasant. And thank you sounds every day.
Moreover, they say thank you not only when the employees of the canteen are at their workplaces. The employees of the complex know each of them by sight and, meeting on the streets in the city or on the way to the enterprise in the morning, they always come up and say hello.
Fauria Akhmetov has been engaged in baking for a quarter of a century. Until 2020, she lived in Naberezhnye Chelny and worked at a bakery, and when she moved to Nizhnekamsk, she got a job at TAIF-NK. Such pies, and buns with poppy seeds, as many diners admit, they have never tried in their lives. And the recipe, the craftswoman shares with a smile, is quite simple:
“It is necessary to work with dough with the soul. It's alive, rising, breathing. To be soft and delicious, you need to be kind yourself, with light in your soul!
In this canteen, the group of Realnoe Vremya turned out to be just at the beginning of lunch. To be honest, the excitement at the distribution line with dishes was serious.
“We have lunch here often. We come every shift. We have worked here since 2015and we know almost everyone here. We come like home. As a mother, as a wife, they serve, feed," the operator of the TU shop No. 02, Dinar Khaziev, willingly shared his impressions.
His workshop mate Andrey Nukhratov added that even at home there are not always such dishes as are offered in the factory canteen. And one doesn't have to go far for an example:
“Fried squid is an exquisite dish of this canteen. Probably, not everyone cooks such a dish at home! And all kinds of salads, pastries. Everything is delicious — wonderful. Like at home. The canteen staff is always greet with a smile. Very friendly women.
But to the question: whether there is anything that they would like to improve in the canteen, the HRCC specialist has not found an answer:
“Improve it? Honestly? Nothing! The best is the enemy of the good. Why change something if everything is very, very good here," in the end, our interlocutor decided.
The smallest, but very beloved
This is about the canteen at the refinery — the very first on the territory of TAIF-NK. Here, by the time the Realnoe Vremya group arrived, there was also a serious lunch rush.
Freshly prepared dishes were sold instantly. Trays were moving in a continuous stream to the cash register. As in every canteen of TAIF-NK, the variety of dishes, the speed and accuracy of the work of a small team were amazing. Keeping up with everything and everywhere is also an art worthy of admiration.
Pavel Gavrilov, the head of the refinery Shop No. 01, admits that the only thing that upsets him is that it is not possible to visit the canteen every day. Work goes first. Well, as for the quality of food and service, there can be no two opinions:
“Impressions are the most positive: very tasty, beautiful, satisfying, varied. Our women are great fellows, and thank them very much for their difficult, but so necessary work!
“Look at the serving! Look at how delicious everything looks. What about the smells?! It's not just smells! These are fragrances! Our girls cook excellent dishes, and every day there is a variety. Favourite? I love borscht very much — it's one of the first courses. Pilaf — you'll die! And pastries? Have you tried pastries here? If not yet, then do it definitely! Just hurry up — they are sold very quickly," Stanislav Artemyev, the deputy head of Shop No. 13 of the RMC Refinery of TAIF-NK JSC, joined the conversation.
By the way, another of our interlocutors, Alfat Sadykov, the head of Shop No. 13 of the TAIF-NK Refinery, first spoke about pies and pastries:
“The pastries in our canteen are divine. Of course, everything is very tasty here, and all the dishes are cooked at the highest level, but the pastries… We also try to order pastries for the whole team in our canteen for all holidays.
“Always friendly, joyful, native faces. They've been working here for a long time. We know them — whose golden hands feed us so deliciously," Andrey Moiseev, the head of the refinery shop No. 05, shared his impressions with the journalist of Realnoe Vremya. They managed to stop him already at the exit from the canteen. He was in a hurry on business, but when he found out that it was about the canteen, he stayed for a couple of minutes: “We visit our dining room every day. What pleases — delicious, variety and reasonable prices. We visited, there was an opportunity, a neighbouring enterprise. The dining room has been renovated there. Very beautiful, but it is more soulful at ours!
The real discovery for the journalist of Realnoe Vremya was that the general staff of the staff of all three canteens (and this together with the management!) — only 35 people. But, as Elena Burundukova proudly emphasised, this is a very strong team.
“What is the main thing? So that a person works with desire. If she doesn't know how to do something at the beginning of her career, we will teach," she is sure.
Mutual assistance and support of each other, joint decision-making, in all this is teamwork. All this unites and gives a positive result!
By the way, it was the canteens of TAIF-NK JSC that were among the first among the industrial enterprises of Nizhnekamsk in 2019 voluntarily passed all inspections and received a certificate of compliance with the international food safety management system HACCP.
The certificate has been successfully renewed this year. And this is another documentary confirmation of the compliance of the catering system in the company with the strictest requirements and a worthy addition to the most important thing — the appreciation and gratitude of the entire team of plants and enterprises of TAIF-NK JSC. And not only.