Silicon Valley offers up gourmet cafeteria food

Global Business

Silicon Valley offers up gourmet cafeteria food

From top tech companies to startups, Silicon Valley’s secret sauce for success is increasingly becoming food.

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.

The social media company LinkedIn shows us “Brick & Mortar” – one of their five cafes built within the last few years.  Some of the selections on today’s menu – Korean style or Bourbon honey mustard wings, healthy salads, nachos, ramen noodles, artisan tacos and mochi emoji. Let’s not forget about Chinese selections authentic enough to please the many staff craving food from their homeland.

“We have a Cantonese chef and then the whole crew so everything’s pretty decent. I would say it’s even better than some of the outside restaurants, ” Jackie Zhao, data analyst at LinkedIn said. Silicon Valley tech companies have been ridiculed for giving staff such lavish and sumptuous perks. But food and beverage program manager Anna Bohbot says food is not only a wise investment for attracting talent, but also for long-term productivity. “We care about the quality of the food. Our employees are eating this every day. We want them to be productive and successful for LinkedIn so we want to give them high quality food,” Bohbot said.

Long gone are the days of being served cafeteria food where you have no idea what’s in it. At LinkedIn, they make it very clear what ingredients are in your food. But they take it a step further too by also telling you exactly where your food came from. LinkedIn even runs a foodies club – where they offer cooking classes and field trips that take employees to see where their meals comes from. “By doing that, we have employees that are not just more educated, but more in tune with the food we’re serving. More appreciative, asking more questions. Getting very excited,” Bohbot said.

One of the pioneers of Silicon Valley gourmet cafeteria food is Google and its very first chef – Charlie Ayers, who recalls his early conversations with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

“Sergey and Larry both expressed to me, that your mission is to keep people on campus. Create a reason for them to come in early, stay in between, stay late. We don’t care how you do it. It’s your responsibility to do that.” Ayers, who now runs his own restaurant Calafia Cafe has consulted for the likes of LinkedIn, Facebook, Dropbox and many more.

“I think it’s a very creative and innovate way of getting the most out of your employees because everyone eats,” Ayers said. “It’s another way of the employees being able to spend time with each other, cross pollinate and think about different ideas where usually take and sales don’t see eye to eye. You are able to sit down, break bread and talk things over and hash it out over a great meal.”

While this secret sauce is certainly appetizing, some companies like LinkedIn are setting limits by closing at dinner time in the hopes of employees maintaining a healthier work-life balance. 

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