This week we attended a San Francisco event featuring wine and food tasting and a panel of chefs from technology companies. We caught a train to San Francisco and walked a mile to the San Francisco Design Center.
The wine and food tasting ran from 5:30 to 7:00. Thirteen wineries poured their wines. We liked the cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir by Hall, a Napa Valley winery. Most of the food was cheese and chocolate.
Surprisingly, the food that stood out for us wasn’t chocolate, but cheese. The Nicasio Valley Cheese Company had four cheeses, and they were all good. They’re located in Marin County on the road to Point Reyes. The Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station is a favorite of ours, but we’d be tempted to stop at the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company. The north San Francisco Bay Area can be rural with dairy farms, so there are a number of artisanal cheese producers there. We’ve spent a day hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore and eating a burlap sack of oysters from Tomales Bay. Or wine tasting in the Sonoma Valley. Stopping for cheese would be nice.
The panel of chefs from technology companies started at 7:00. In the photo above, the panel leader is on the left, and then executive chefs from BandPage, Twitter, DropBox, and Zynga.
Brian Mattingly, the guy speaking, has amazing credentials: taught for 17 years at the California Culinary Academy and executive chef at Google, and Apple, and DropBox. DropBox hasn’t repeated a menu in the two years that Mattingly has been there, and they plan to continue this.
Other companies repeat comfort food. All the chefs say that providing great food is part of the company culture and helps to attract and retain employees. Although some kitchens prepare thousand of meals a day, these chefs run their kitchens like small restaurants, with menus based on seasonal food from local producers.
In addition to attracting and retaining employees, serving a nice breakfast, lunch, and dinner makes it easier for employees to spend more time at work, so the companies know what they’re doing.
The tech companies employ thousands of people, and many are paid and treated extremely well. Unfortunately, folks in other industries, who comprise the vast majority of people, haven’t enjoyed this surge in pay, widening the gap between the top-paying jobs and the vast majority. While this is troubling, in the early 2000’s I rode a tech bubble up and was laid off when it burst, so I’ve seen that the only constant is change.