The Best Korean Kimchee: Michelle Swan

May 21, 2024

We’re celebrating our Associates during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Meet Michelle Swan, an HR business partner for the Pacific and Southwest Divisions of Canteen who started in June 2022.

“My mother is Korean and Japanese. My father was in the military and my mother’s family is in Hawaiʻi, so I grew up in Hawaiʻi, Alaska, and Idaho on a yearly rotation.

“My grandmother only spoke Korean and I only spoke English, but we found ways to overcome the communication issues. She used to put cold cream all over her face, pretend to be a bear, and chase me around the house. She also used to proudly give me grapefruits from her garden. I can’t stand grapefruit, but I always ate them because it made her so happy.

“My mother makes the best kimchee on the planet. Truly. Kimchee is a fermented, spicy side dish made with cabbage, radish, or cucumbers, and may be eaten with every meal. She uses the traditional method of burying it in the ground to ferment – and I’ve never tasted better. She taught me how to make it using the traditional method (although it can be fermented in the kitchen). It’s labor-intensive, and it takes a long time, but no matter how hard I have tried, I still can’t make it taste quite as good as hers. I think there’s a secret ingredient she’s not telling me about!

“I appreciate the value that diversity brings not only to Compass, but to all of us as Associates. Whether we are learning from each other, modeling behaviors, connecting, contrasting, or supporting . . . diversity enriches our lives and our work. We all have a place and a role to play because we are all unique.

“And what I like most about my position is the variety of the work and being able to help managers at all levels of the organization and in different states. There are different cultural aspects not only in each region, but within each state and at each location. That means the approach has to be individualized. Just as Canteen values and respects diversity as a company, we also do as individuals in our positions as we work with others.

“Here’s to us!”