Tech company cafeterias: 6 amusing facts

jkom51August 21, 2014

This was actually a Part 2 article with amusing little clippits that didn't make it into the straightforward article on how tech companies use their cafeterias to build company culture. This addendum was just for fun, and I thought it made a better read, LOL. It's pasted in its entirety; the Part 1 article is linked if anyone wants to read it.

Six random facts about San Francisco tech company cafeterias
Posted on 08/19/2014 SF Chronicle

On Sunday (8/17/2014), the Chronicle Food + Home section ran a story about how chefs at various tech companies are trying to foster a certain culture within their workplaces. Today, local freelance contributor Alissa Merksamer shares a few fun facts that didn't make it into the story. Consider them bonuses from the director's cut.

1. Dropbox chef Brian Mattingly has an ego befitting a man who formerly worked for Michelin-starred restaurants and headed culinary programs at Apple and Google. He spent months perfecting the burger he serves daily at his Dropbox cafe, Tuck Shop, eventually settling on a blend of brisket, chuck and jowls. He believes the work has paid off. "Our burgers are the best in America," he says.

2. In fact, Tuck Shop briefly appeared on Yelp and garnered such high ratings from Dropbox employees that one night, a group of prospective diners arrived from San Jose thinking it was a real restaurant. Mattingly was so embarrassed that he gave them $100 to find dinner elsewhere.

3. At Zynga, Chef Matthew DuTrumble maintains quality by preparing many, many things in-house including vinegars, mustard, cheese, dried fruits, pickles, extracts, kombucha and yes, beer. He even extracts lye from reserved grilling ashes to cure olives.

4. Zynga also has a brewmaster, Eric Stocker. And he has a pedal-powered grain mill (yes, he actually is the one who rides it) which he uses for grinding grains for various house-made items at Zynga HQ.

5. At Thumbtack, chef Aubrey Saltus sources ingredients within 100 miles of San Francisco.

6. At Twitter, big sandwiches are swapped for items like caraway-crusted pastrami sliders served on little plates. This is because Twitter prioritizes nutrition, so chef Lance Holton reduces portion size to prevent overeating.


Separately, there was another article today (8/21) that discussed They pick food up from the tech companies, and bike it over to charities who can use it up:

"...Food Runners, established by Mary Risley in 1987, takes food that would otherwise be thrown away and delivers it to needy people at Community Awareness & Treatment Services, A Woman's Place, Cityteam Ministries and Door Clinic, among many others.

Deliveries are made by a paid truck driver, a paid bike courier and volunteers. With the amount of donated food now coming in, Risley hopes to expand deliveries to after-school programs as well. "

Foodrunner is looking for both staff and volunteers to expand. "...There are about 100 new donors (of leftover food), and nearly all of them are tech companies located in South of Market - familiar names like Twitter, Zynga, LinkedIn, Uber, Google, Adobe and Airbnb, just to name a few, plus caterers like Cater2Me and ZeroCater that service small startups. "

Here is a link that might be useful: Pt 1: Tech-company chefs use food to nourish workplace culture

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Where can I buy a pedal-powered grain mill?


    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 1:16PM
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I recall stories about people buying them from stores that usually supply the Amish during the pre-Y2K concerns.

Working at a tech company and having eaten at several over the years, these stories are about the 1% of tech companies and not typical. Our cafeteria is decent and the food is somewhat subsidized, not free. That is more typical.

Actually, it was better when I first joined my current company 8 years ago - I loved it when I was on site on a day they had tuna - a generous lunch size chunk of seared tuna in a complete lunch for $4. But when the economy softened they cut back the subsidy. On the other hand, working from home, I don't benefit from it most of the time. Pay and other benefits are more important to me so I think they cut back in a place that makes sense.

They do bring in dinner at times when a team is working late. Last time I was visiting, before the long drive home, I joined them for Indian buffet that had been brought in for dinner. My prior company used one of the dinner delivery services where you could choose food from various local restaurants during a crunch when a lot of us were working late.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 1:49PM
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I think the chef rigged it himself. Instructions are everywhere on the web; Mother Earth News was publishing this kind of DIY stuff back in the hippie '70's. Which tells you how old I am, LOL....

Grainmaker, who produces high quality mills for home use, has a bike stand in their Accessories tab:

Here is a link that might be useful: Pedal power!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 8:07PM
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>>these stories are about the 1% of tech companies and not typical.>>

Yes, but if you read the article about Foodrunner, 15 tons of food per week is a HUGE amount being donated to worthy charities, that would otherwise go to waste.

1% or not, I'm glad they were able to arrange legally donating the leftovers. Usually the Health Dept. doesn't permit this kind of arrangement and the food ends up being trashed.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 8:16PM
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