Saturday, July 13, 2013

Feeding the Wiley Sysadmin II

Egg noodles and beef broth with tripe and vegetables.
(Electric Boogaloo. There, I got that joke out of my system. If you don't get it, it's because you were born after 1990, which a troubling number of you people seem to be. Looking at you, Dear Mom patrons. Stay off my lawn!)*

The Bon Appétit Management Company (shorter: BAMCO) started the same way any grass roots, salt of the earth catering empire focusing on Silicon Valley businesses starts: with a merger and acquisition.

The company was formed in 1987 in San Francisco by partners Fedele Bauccio and Ernie Collins (who passed away in 2009) and is now based in Palo Alto. In 1999 Bauccio "got religion" on sustainable food and started Bon Appétit's "Farm to Fork Initiative", modeled after the ideas of Alice Waters and others.

The key points of the initiative include a call for fresh, "from scratch" food prepared on premises, a reduction of waste, a reduced carbon footprint, a massive composting program, cage free and responsibly raised meat and using the Seafood Watch List as a guide.

The program is outlined here: www.bamco.com/sustainable-food-service/farm-to-fork

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An extremely passable carnitas with pozole and extra guacamole on the side.
I first heard of Bon Appétit in the early 2000s being pitched a job by a small start-up in Mountain View called Google.

By now, the "show off your fabulous cafeteria" is part and parcel of the "wooing" process for potential employees, but at the time I was rightly awed at the splendor of it:

For free, you can have fresh sushi, pizza out of an actual brick oven, a made-to-order hamburger, grilled chicken sandwich, made to order omeletes in the morning, an expansive salad bar.

Later on I was at another small start up from Redding, Washington that had an office in Silicon Valley. They too used Bon Appétit, although they only partially subsidized the meals.

We hear from the most reliable of sources that another start up, in Sunnyvale, an Internet media company with a female CEO has adapted the Google free-lunch model for their 11,300 employees.

In addition, break rooms have been stocked with fair trade chocolate, fresh fruit, fruit bars, energy bars, baked chips, nuts, baby carrots and yogurt in lieu of the typical junk food larder of a tech industry break room pantry (potato chips, Red Bull, soda, cookies, mini candy bars). Good on them, unnamed Internet media company, and good on their unnamed CEO.

It's as if they want their employees healthy as well as happy. Well, we think the latter follows the former anyway. And with that, it's off to the gym.

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* Yes, I realize that "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" is a movie ostensibly about youthful rebellion, and therefor the irony of using it to mark an arbitrary generational split between Gen X and Millennials is not lost on me.

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Bon Appétit Management Company