Inside the Facebook Cafe
I started working as a pastry chef on the Facebook Culinary Team a few months ago and have since been bombarded with puzzled looks and questions about it…mainly, “Huh? Facebook? They have a Culinary Team?” Why yes, yes they do…
Facebook, home to about 1,200 employees and about 50 or so Culinary Team members, is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. It is nestled at the end of a quiet cul de sac, right in the midst of a charming little neighborhood. The building is quite unassuming and could easily be mistaken for an elementary school.
The Facebook HQ is full of innovation and creativity, but not all of it is related to the website. Some of it is delicious. Facebook’s cafe, Café X, is a full functioning, top-quality restaurant that serves three gourmet meals to Facebook employees every Monday-Friday. At Facebook, the amazing food (free to all employees) is a major recruitment tool, and something that helps set the company apart in the sea of Silicon Valley start-ups touting amazing employee perks.
So, what does a typical day taste like at Facebook? That’s a hard question to answer because there really is no typical day in the FB world of food. The kitchen serves about 700 breakfasts, 1,200-1,500 lunches and 500 dinners every workday. All ingredients used are the highest quality, including organic when possible, free-range meats and local produce. But that is where the day-to-day similarities stop.
For each meal (other than breakfast), the culinary team crafts a menu based on a different country or area of the world. Every day, the lunch and dinner are different (for example, Monday’s lunch might be Spain and the dinner could be Persia). Specific countries may be repeated, but the corresponding menus are always unique. The breakfast specials are rotated on a weekly basis, with the exception being the muffins and scones, which change daily.
My boss, Shanon, and I make up the FB pastry team for the breakfast and lunch shift at the office (there is also an evening shift that covers dinner). For us, breakfast includes making a few hundred muffins and scones each morning. We decide on the flavors the day before, and start cranking them out bright and early (6am) the following day. We try to do one healthy option and one that is a little more decadent. For example, we might do a Whole Wheat Honey Oat Muffin and a Double Chocolate Scone.
Or perhaps a Flax and Cranberry Scone and an Orange Chocolate Chip Muffin.
On Fridays, we have a little fun and play around with a special breakfast bread instead of baking the usual muffins and scones. We might do a Hazelnut, Chocolate Chip and Orange Brioche on a Friday.
In addition to the breakfast breads, we also make homemade granola and a variety of cookies that go in all the micro-kitchens (the office has four).
For lunch, we put out two different desserts that correspond with the meal’s theme. Perhaps the theme is France…well your dessert options could include Fresh Fruit Tartlets…
And Hazelnut Chocolate Tortes…
The Facebook kitchen is full of good things to savor…and I’m excited to share them with all of you.
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