Following Google’s Food Philosophy: Corporate Catering Done Right

Posted by on Friday, December 6th, 2013 with 4 Comments

Workplace dining may not get any better — or buzzier — than the cuisine served up daily at the Google campus in Mountain View, California. Its collection of approximately 20 on-site employee cafes are legendary, with their five-star chefs and health-conscious ethos extolled by media outlets from CNN and The New York Times to Gourmet magazine. By now, we’ve all heard that Google offers its employees a nearly endless and incredibly diverse menu of primarily locally-sourced, organic meals — for free. But why does Google make such a fuss about food?

Google cafeteria

Google’s cafeteria does more than simply keep its employees fed. Image courtesy of Flickr’s Creative Commons, User Brett L.

Of course, workers who are well-fed by their employers tend to have higher job satisfaction and be more productive. That’s common knowledge among business leaders these days, and it follows that providing food and snacks makes good financial sense. Google stands out, though, because it isn’t content with merely keeping its employees physically satisfied. Its culinary program is about more than free food — a lot more. Google is using their cafeterias to create an engaging corporate environment, and to communicate a much larger message about its companywide values.

As Charlie Ayers, Google’s first executive chef, described in an interview to the San Francisco Business Times: “It’s about keeping it exciting and removing predictability… once at Google I made lobster claws for lunch. The next day I gave them hot dogs — really good hot dogs. That created an energy and vibe on campus that kept it interesting. My mission was to create the illusion that you weren’t at work.” Ayers and his successors don’t just think about creating a menu and crafting meals. They consider their role as chefs in a much larger context, and incorporate Google’s environmental and employee-focused values into their daily work.

Google's food

Google makes it a priority to serve food that reflects their values of health and sustainability. Image courtesy of Flickr’s Create Commons, User lhl

The chefs at Google take great pride in sourcing as many of their ingredients from local farmers and vendors as possible, and buying organic produce whenever they can. While Google serves a wide variety of foods, including indulgent ones (one worker interviewed by Refinery29 swore by the salted chocolate chip cookies), the cafeterias tend to emphasize healthier options and always provide vegetarian and gluten-free items. According to Gourmet, even the dining rooms are designed with employee well-being in mind: most cafes feature long communal tables instead of exclusive corporate dining rooms, actively encouraging conversation, collaboration, and egalitarianism among employees.

Obviously, Google’s corporate food program is not just about keeping stomachs full (although that’s important, and their rumored “no desk is more than 150 feet from a micro-kitchen” philosophy seems designed to address that need!). By creating a specific culture within their employee cafeterias, Google is engaging its workers to become part of the corporate community by eating together, talking about the food on their plates, and being aware of the company’s key values. Even the myriad Yelp! reviews for Google’s cafes (mainly written by employees’ guests), zero in on this ethos. One reviewer of the campus’s Pure Ingredients Cafe notes, “What drew me to the PIC in particular was its philosophy towards unadulterated, all natural, and all whole foods–no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, with everything from condiments to sodas are prepared in-house.”

Google staff lunch

Employees enjoy a staff lunch together. Image courtesy of Flickr’s Creative Commons, User J. Kleske

When these are the kinds of topics raised in the staff lunchroom, something special is taking place. The bottom line is that Google doesn’t just serve up food. It serves up a conversation and a culture, on a real plate with a real fork and a real knife, for its employees. Every day.

Even without a massive budget or multiple cafes, your company can still put Google’s food philosophy into practice! With on your team, you’ll have access to a wide variety of catered meals to create a similar kind of excitement and energy in your workplace. We can help you make lunchtime a special occasion for conversation and sharing appreciation among employees, and our wide selection of restaurants and vendors makes it easy to choose healthy, wholesome options. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your company bring a little Google to the table!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

4 responses to “Following Google’s Food Philosophy: Corporate Catering Done Right”

  1. Jhon Smith says:

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