Leaked e-mail: Googleplex adds chefs to microkitchens, becomes even more of a Shangri-la

The snack-and-coffee-filled minikitchens at the Googleplex are "the hottest topic" on one of the internal forums lately, says an internal message leaked to Valleywag. (Indeed, a former employee told me last night that once, an employee e-mailed the entire company bitching that his desk was more than 200 feet from one of Google's cafes.) That's why Google is now putting chefs in charge of the minikitchens at its HQ.

The whole message is below, but for a quick hit of cringeiness, just read this line:

We're changing the microkitchens to minimize food waste, to be more responsible with our funds, to improve the health quality of our offerings and to create a central place for Googley social interaction.

And:

Media lounges will also have comfy seating and TV screens airing YouTube/Google Video content.

As Larry and Sergey announced at TGIF last week, we're going to be making some changes to our microkitchens. This should come as no surprise to many of you — since the microkitchens have been the hottest topic discussed, debated, and dissected on misc in recent memory. So here's the full scoop on the coming changes.

We know that Googlers love their cafes, and that many of you have very personal connections both with the chefs and the food they prepare. By natural extension, our chefs are going to begin managing the microkitchens. This means that the experts who know how to prepare food well are going to be calling the shots, and that's as it should be. We do, of course, encourage ongoing dialog between chefs and Googlers. As part of this change, some of our existing microkitchens will either be moved or converted to "media lounges" with flat panels, room to catch up with other Googlers, and an assortment of drinks — think Slice Cafe, but with really cool TVs so that you can watch Google Video and YouTube content.

These changes are scheduled to take effect on December 4, 2006.

Those of you who have been around for a while know that the microkitchens started for a variety of good reasons, including a genuine desire to make it easy for folks to grab some food while working long and/or odd hours. But I suspect that many of you will agree that the current implementation of them has gotten out of hand, and that the microkitchens have evolved into mini-7-Elevens. We're changing the microkitchens to minimize food waste, to be more responsible with our funds, to improve the health quality of our offerings and to create a central place for Googley social interaction. Besides, we're Googlers, and we built our company on the premise that change and experimentation are good things, so we're practicing what we preach. For the moment, this change is for Mountain View only, but we'll also keep an eye on microkitchens around the globe as other offices hit scale.


DETAILS

CAFE HOURS OF OPERATION: Beginning on December 4, 2006 all cafes will be open from 8am to 9pm, Monday through Friday. Packaged leftovers/cereal boxes/other late night food will be left for late/weekend work.

MICROKITCHENS: Every building will have at least one microkitchen to be managed by the chef of the nearest cafe (and will be located as close as possible to the cafe). The chef will be responsible for stocking the microkitchen with healthful, interesting food *and* to solicit guidance/input from Googlers. The chefs will stock the microkitchens with a combination of prepared and purchased items. Microkitchens will also have soda fountains. For buildings >50k square feet, roughly one additional microkitchen may be added as needed for each extra 50k square feet.

MEDIA LOUNGES: Existing microkitchens that do not continue to function as microkitchens will be converted to media lounges. Media lounges will have a variety of coffees (and perhaps teas), a high-speed filtered water dispenser, and family-style juice containers. Media lounges will also have comfy seating and TV screens airing YouTube/Google Video content.

[Photo by Raphael Slinckx]