Long service dinner 2020: just like the 1001 nights
Around 60 people attended the long service dinner held by the Roche Employees' Association (AVR) in Building 67's Panorama restaurant on Friday 10 January. All AVR members who completed 25 and 40 years' service in 2019 were invited.
The evening kicked off at 6.30 with drinks in the south wing. AVR President Adnan Tanglay then welcomed his guests to the restaurant with its festive décor, and AVR Vice-President Gernot Scharf excelled himself with interesting facts about staff catering at Roche: in the 1970s, for example, the staff restaurant offered set lunches for no more than CHF 2.50 and desserts for 40 centimes. Gernot also introduced the team that runs the Panorama restaurant (formerly the senior managers' dining room) today: restaurant manager Jerôme Danner used to be Chef de Service at the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel, while Jan Trachsler was the chef at various Swiss restaurants with Gault & Millau points and Michelin stars.
Jan had selected oriental cuisine as the theme for this year's long service dinner. The starters buffet gave guests their first taste of exquisite delicacies from the 1001 nights, then came the first interlude: Adnan Tanglay took the audience on a journey back to 1979. Roche had around 43,000 employees at the time, generating sales of some 5 billion francs – a figure that guest of honour Bruno Weissen, Head of Human Resources Basel/Kaiseraugst, was asked to guess. In the same year, the company inaugurated the Liebrüti residential development in Kaiseraugst, Canton Aargau, built by its Welfare Foundation. The purchase of La Quinoléine, Paris, made Roche one of the largest citric acid producers. In Switzerland the canton of Jura split from the canton of Bern, while Sony caused a worldwide furore with its first Walkman. It wasn't just words that took the AVR members back to past times: music played its part too, as Adnan spun hits from 1979 like "YMCA" by the Village People and "Gloria" by Umberto Tozzi.
After an utterly delicious lamb-based main course the focus shifted towards the members who joined Roche in 1994. The workforce had increased to around 61,000 by then, said Gernot Scharf, generating sales of some 14 billion francs. Roche established affiliates in Russia and China, though a global loss of 5,000 jobs was a first for the company. Following the end of apartheid, South Africa held its first free elections – and the Channel Tunnel was opened between England and France. The 1994 cohort then had its musical knowledge put to the test, with hits like "I Swear" by All 4 One and "Saturday Night" by Whigfield.
The dessert buffet was then followed by one more surprise. The AVR itself has something to celebrate this year: its 70th birthday. So Adnan and Gernot also played a few songs from 1950. In case anybody was still hungry, ice cream was served in a variety of flavours, including saffron – followed by coffee and chocolates. With the formal proceedings completed, the evening drew to a close in good company.