Today, the company has hundreds of kitchen workers making sure Googlers stay well fed, but it all started with one man: Chef Charlie Ayers.
Ayers was Google’s first executive chef, leading its kitchen team from 1999 until 2005, and building the foundation for the food culture that Google is so famous for today.
Ayers actually won the job in a cook-off. Google was trying to decide among about 25 different chefs, so it challenged each of them to prepare a sample meal for the company’s 40 early employees.
What dish was so delicious that it sealed the deal?
“Even back then, when the company was so small, it was an eclectic team,” Ayers told Business Insider. “So I had a very eclectic menu. I made Sri Lankan chicken curry with roasted pumpkin and brown rice, five-spice roasted tofu and cashew lettuce wraps, a chipotle roasted mushroom steak quesadilla, a goat cheese, crouton, and beet salad over arugula — I remember that one specifically because Sergey wanted the recipe for the croutons because he was having a date the next night — and a chocolate almond tart. Oh, and then we had split-pea soup. And all of that was prepped on my ironing board in my studio.”
The Googlers must have been blown away because Ayers got the job. By the time he left Google in 2005, he had built a team of five chefs and 150 other kitchen workers, and they were serving 4,000 lunches and dinners a day. Ayers wrote a cookbook with tips and recipes based on his experience and told Business Insider that he still occasionally works for Google in an advisory role. His legacy also lives on at the Googleplex: Charlie’s Cafe dishes out a wide variety of healthy cuisine.
Before joining the search engine (and reportedly making $US26 million during its IPO), Ayers catered for The Grateful Dead and he now owns a restaurant called Calafia and a cafe called Market A GoGo in Palo Alto.
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