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Charlie Ayers Chef/Owner of Calafia Café & Market A-Go-Go, Culinary Consultant, Cookbook Author

Charlie Ayers, Chef/Owner of Calafia Café & Market A-Go-Go, Culinary Consultant, Cookbook Author

Though he grew up in New England, attended Johnson & Wales culinary school, and cooked at several Providence and Boston area restaurants, Chef Charlie Ayers made his mark in California as the first executive chef for Google. In a scenario familiar to Chopped and Top Chef viewers, Ayers won the job in a 1999 cook-off judged by the company’s then-40 employees. Capitalizing on the bounty of clean, sustainable foods available in California, Chef Ayers took the “feed their brains” directive given by the company and ran with it. He toured the information superhighway with Google for six years and by the time of his departure, he and his staff were serving 4,000 daily lunches and dinners in 10 cafés at the company's headquarters.

Moving on to a much smaller venture, Chef Ayers realized a long-standing dream by opening Calafia Café & Market A-Go-Go in Palo Alto in 2009. A community favorite among vegetarians and organic fanatics, Calafia is the embodiment of Ayers’ belief that everyone should be able to eat delicious, innovative, fast cuisine that is healthful, good for the community, and good for the earth.

Chef Ayers spreads Calafia’s “slow food served fast” message in other ways. As a consultant to high-tech companies eager to replicate the Google model, he creates corporate cafeterias, hires chefs, and develops employee-dining programs. As the author of Food 2.0: Secrets from the Chef that Fed Google (DK Publishing, 2008), he shares the same quick-fix, productivity-boosting meals that have enamored diners at his restaurant, among them the late Steve Jobs. And as a philanthropist, Chef Ayers continues to serve on the board of and support such charities as Rock the Earth and Adolescent Counseling Services.

 

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