Celebrating the Women of Compass: Aimee Takamura
Aimee Takamura has been with Compass Group for 2 ½ years. She leads culinary wellness and sustainability initiatives, including virtual teaching and wellness demos, for Restaurant Associates. It’s a profession she’s wanted to pursue since she was a pole vaulter in high school.
Read her story to learn how she uses her deep passion for food and nutrition to help people live a more healthful life.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you and why is it important that we celebrate it?
In the culinary world, women make up a small percentage of the workforce, so I think it’s important to highlight women in the industry, especially those who have a voice and are contributing just as much as our male counterparts are. With so much attention right now on inequalities, not only with women, but with other genders and races, it’s good to put a positive focus on the impact women are making.
Why is it important for women’s voices to be represented?
We all come from different places and different backgrounds. I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and that gives me a different perspective than someone else. It’s crucial to have as many backgrounds, genders and views as possible. That helps companies make more well-rounded decisions. Without other voices, it’s harder to find a solution that really works for all and one that can move things forward. We make a big effort to highlight female voices in our operation. Whether it’s a female chef or a line cook, it’s important for us to hear from them all.
How does your background shape your perspective in the culinary world?
As a Japanese woman in the culinary industry, I have different insight around celebrating other cultures through food and a sensitivity that is important to ensure we celebrate it the right way, without doing unintentional damage.
Different perspectives help people on both sides to be better. I am getting a new perspective on other parts of the business right now as my role is me to grow professionally. It’s also giving me the opportunity to work alongside some amazing colleagues at the corporate level.
Who are some women who inspire you and why?
How much time do you have? (laughs) Danielle Nierenberg comes to mind immediately. She is president of Food Tank, a company that is trying to build a better food system. She’s an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues. She is somebody who challenges perspectives on important issues.
What project have you worked on at Compass that you are most proud of?
I worked with The Monday Campaigns, the organization behind the Meatless Monday movement, to create a culinary manual on how to implement Meatless Mondays for our company. The movement to incorporate more plants into our daily diet and consume less meat continues to grow. It was cool to work on a project that was not just environmentally focused, but also wellness focused. It was a project that impacted more than just my unit…it was something we could promote companywide.
How do you try to bring your authentic self to work?
I hope my passion for nutrition shows through every project that I work on. It’s something I’ve been interested in for as long as I can remember. I was probably 14 or 15 when I realized how eating can impact your performance. I remember applying to colleges and reading the program description at Cornell University for Nutrition Science and thinking that’s it! I truly want to help people live a more healthful life.
What kind of mark do you want to leave on Compass?
My goal is to be able to influence not only the day-to-day operations within my current role, but to also leave an impact companywide. My colleagues and I are working on a wellness program for associates that is in the pilot stage right now. It’s a project that will impact a wider audience. It was created by the dietitians with the company and it really stretched us to create something that’s going to be here for years to come. I feel like it will have a tremendous impact on people’s lives long after the program is launched. Having the ability to have that type of impact on the company is a wonderful feeling.