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Potluck lunches entice team to share meals—and more

Posted by Denise M. Reagan on Mar 5, 2018 02:18 PM

Good wellness programs extend beyond health insurance plans and gym memberships. Sometimes it’s just nice to break bread with your coworkers.

February Lunchathon Potluck

During the first quarter of 2018, Brunet-García has challenged all employees to a Lunchathon: the more times they bring their lunch to work, the more chances they have to win a $100 restaurant gift card. The competition is a remedy for the tendency to overspend and overeat over the holidays.

As part of the Lunchathon, Brunet-García has been holding potluck lunches on the third Wednesday of each month. The banquets have quickly become much-anticipated events that encourage participation in the quarterly challenge.

"Getting together for our monthly potlucks gives us all a chance to come together as friends and forget we're at work for a bit," said Art Director Bianca Borghi. "Sharing stories and family recipes over a meal that was put together by everyone gives me new insight and appreciation for the people I work with every day."

January Lunchathon Potluck 3

Staff members have cooked a wide variety of dishes to share:

  • President and CEO Jorge Brunet-García shared his culinary roots by preparing Cuban sliders with roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard.
  • Account Manager Chad Villarroel mixed shredded broccoli with vinegar, garlic powder, and crispy chow mein noodles for a delicious Asian-style slaw.
  • Art Director Cassie Deogracia chopped up fresh fruit and added lime, mint, and honey for a pink mojito salad.
  • PR and Social Media Specialist Natalie Spindle tossed together a fresh Greek salad with plump Kalamata olives.
  • Business Development and Contract Administrator Leslie LaLonde whipped up a platter of spicy Buffalo tofu and feta bites.
  • Creative Group Head Katy Garrison treated the team to Cracker Candy.

“The monthly potluck is easily my favorite lunch,” LaLonde said. “It feels like a holiday potluck each and every month. Sitting around the table like a big family and trying everyone's favorite dish—it’s as heartwarming as it sounds.”

“We keep outdoing ourselves!” said Diane Brunet-García, partner and vice president.

Throughout the year, Brunet-García sponsors wellness challenges to build staff camaraderie, improve morale, and challenge their competitive spirit. The agency’s wellness program aims to balance the stress of deadlines and production demands by helping employees stay healthy throughout the year. By investing in stipends for gym memberships, reimbursing employees for race entry fees, and subsidizing monthly massages, Brunet-García is building a healthier workforce throughout Jacksonville, Tampa, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.

January Lunchathon Potluck 5

“When did the term ‘potluck’ get a bad rap? Only bringing a side but then enjoying a full meal is a win-win in my book,” said Senior Account Manager Kate Jolley. “I've been pleasantly surprised with the food quality and enthusiasm from the team. I might have to step up my Publix potato salad contribution next time. I hope it's a tradition we can keep going even after our ‘Lunchathon’ ends.”

For the Lunchathon, team members log their meals on a Google spreadsheet that keeps track of how many times they’ve brought their lunch to work. Employees packed more than 380 lunches during the first two months of the challenge.

I've enjoyed it!” Deogracia said. “It's made me more aware of when I'm eating out and has definitely helped me save money by preparing healthy, well-balanced lunches. I'm trying to watch my spending on eating out overall, so this has definitely helped out with that.”

February Lunchathon Cuban Sliders

As the February potluck lunch started to wind down, members of the team looked at one another with satisfied faces.

“We’re definitely doing this every month,” Garrison said.

Some of the recipes from the first two potluck lunches are below.


January Lunchathon Potluck 2

Broccoli Slaw

  • 1 bag broccoli slaw (minimum 12 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil (olive oil works, too)
  • Crispy chow mein noodles (I use La Choy)

Combine and let it sit overnight.


Greek Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound rotini or other small pasta
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8 ounces cucumbers, diced (about 3)
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 (8 ounce) chunk feta cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives

To cook the pasta, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions, about 7 to 10 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, to make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, feta, and olives. Drizzle with dressing. Toss gently until uniformly combined and serve.

Two-bean Salad

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 scallion, green and white parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/4 small red onion, minced

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add the beans, parsley, celery, scallions and red onions and stir until well combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.


February Lunchathon Pink Mojito Fruit Salad

Pink Mojito Fruit Salad

  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries, cut in half
  • Watermelon, diced
  • Lime
  • Mint, one handful
  • Honey

Combine fruits in bowl. Chop mint and add to bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice over bowl. Drizzle in a bit of honey. Mix together.

Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

  • 8 cups Brussels sprouts, chopped in half
  • 2-3 bulbs garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Spread Brussels sprouts and garlic onto sheet pan with edges. Drizzle olive oil and coat vegetables using your hands. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes at 425 degrees.


February Lunchathon Greek Salad

Greek Salad

  • 2 bags romaine
  • 1 bag spring mix
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 jar Kalamata olives, pitted and drained
  • 1 package feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 bottle Greek salad dressing

Mix all ingredients in a large salad bowl and serve chilled.


February Lunchathon Spicy Buffalo Tofu and Feta Bites

Spicy Buffalo Tofu and Feta Bites

  • One block of feta cheese (not crumbled)
  • Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce, half a small bottle
  • One package extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Chop tofu into 1-inch squares. Saute tofu with olive oil, salt, pepper, and hot sauce for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Chop feta into 1-centimeter squares. After tofu cools, stab squares of tofu and feta onto toothpicks.