The controlling chef of Dropbox’s cafe, Tuck Shop, talks about accepting his alpha in the affable apple at age 13, and dishes on one of his admired Tuck Shop recipes of all time.
How did you get into cooking?
In England we accept a guy alleged Graham Kerr, an agnate America’s Julia Child. He had a TV appearance The Galloping Gourmet, apparently the aboriginal affable appearance in England. So I’m eight years old, had been watching his show, and admired it. He did a bit of affable and he had acclaimed actors appear on date and they sat down, had some wine and food. I accomplished it was the affable that sparked my interest; authoritative bodies happy, application my hands, and creativity.
That affectionate of semi-compounded itself with my mother’s affable not actuality that good. There was aliment and aggregate and I was actual beholden of her. But her affable aloof wasn’t that good.
When did you adjudge that you appetite to be a cook?
I was about 8 or 10 years old back I accomplished that’s what I capital to do. Kids at that age consistently say they appetite to be a policeman or a advocate and again they do article else. But I consistently capital to cook, and never afflicted my route.
What were your aboriginal affable jobs like?
At age 13, I was a dishwasher at a alternation pizza restaurant in England. I helped accomplish pizzas back it was slow. Back I was 15, I had an befalling to assignment as an amateur at the Holiday Inn in London. It was a boxy job. There was no training to get me accessible for the activity of the affable world. It was like jumping into the abysmal end of the pool. No one prepares you — you aloof do it. It’s hard, abnormally at that age.
Eventually I got a bottom in the aperture in a actual aristocratic auberge in London, and did my apprenticeship there for four years. The chef there accustomed my adamantine assignment and recommended me to Le Gavroche, which was accepted as the best restaurant in England. That absolutely angry me about from actuality a kid to actuality an adult. There were no screws ups allowed. I admired it. And while I was there, we confused from two to three-star Michelin. That was the actual aboriginal three ablaze Michelin in England.
Did you break and assignment in England all through your youth?
Not really. I got a adventitious to move to Lyon, France, to assignment with Alain Chapel, one of the best chefs in the world. I lived in France for three years. It was a arresting time. I alike ran a auberge restaurant there from the age of twenty three to twenty bristles with a accomplished agglomeration of cooks.
What did your parents anticipate of your career choice?
They accepted the actuality that I got a job, but they didn’t accept the career aisle that I had in mind. My dad was an accountant, so of advance he admired I’d chase his steps. But again they saw I was authoritative way, and that by arduous luck I landed in absurd hotels and restaurants that absolutely jump-started my career.
How did you end up affective to the United States?
The parents of my adherent at the time endemic a alternation of charcuterie restaurants, and opened a abode in Russian Hill in San Francisco. So the befalling came over to appear to the US for a year, admonition set it up, and abound it. You don’t about-face this affectionate of activity down. America was a dream. That one year angry into about 25 years, and I’m still here.
What did you acquisition hasty back you aboriginal confused to America?
In Europe I was actual acclimated to accomplishing all the assignment myself, and accomplishing all the dishes afterwards work. So I bethink on one of my aboriginal canicule the chef came to me and said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Cleaning.” Again he said “We accept a attendant who comes and does it.” In Europe at the time, all cooks were additionally the ones who cleaned. You accomplish the food, you apple-pie afterwards. So that was a big abruptness for me that in America, you don’t accept to do it.
Not abounding bodies apperceive that you were a abecedary for a continued time. How did that happen?
Yes, I did all those abundant hotels and three-star Michelin restaurants and admired it — but I never had weekends or chargeless nights. So back the befalling arose to be a abecedary in the affable academy in San Francisco, I anticipation “What a abundant way to absorb a year and accept some work-life balance.” Then, as it happens, one year became seven. In the meanwhile I opened two added businesses on the side. I assumption I’m affectionate of a workaholic, you see.
The affable academy again appropriate me to be their controlling chef, which basic autograph the class and teaching added chefs what to advise students. I thoroughly admired it.
How did you ascertain the tech apple or how did it ascertain you?
In 2006, one of my above acceptance happened to alive at Google and asked for my resume. Anon after, I was interviewed and again became the controlling chef at Google. At the time, the archetypal book of accumulated aliment was to accept canned food, balmy it up, and so on. But Google was bent to change the apple of admonition with its chase engine, and additionally the apple of accumulated food. They started me out as controlling chef of the Google’s signature cafe, confined 5,000 bodies daily. I had no clue what to do, aught clue. And again at some point it aloof came to me and it all clicked. I put a d plan calm with my leads and cooks, put calm a arrangement to clue objectives and results, and we were off. Appealing soon, we were accustomed worldwide.
And again Apple came along. I created a three-year plan, and I accept it fabricated a big aberration in axis things about there.
And again Dropbox alleged me up…
Why did you appear to Dropbox and how do you acquisition it here?
I adulation it here. My ambition at Dropbox was to advance the best accumulated aliment in the world. I talked with Dropbox founders Drew and Arash, and they were in abounding agreement. They gave me carte blanche to alpha things from scratch, not fix somebody else’s problems. We never echo the menu. Back you accept afflatus and experience, it’s accessible to be innovative.
You alleged your Dropbox bistro Tuck Shop. Why?
In schools all throughout the Commonwealth countries — Australia, Canada, England — when kids go out at recess, they run to a bonbon store, accepted as a Tuck Shop. What I’m announcement at Dropbox’s Tuck Shop is this spirit that we’re all kids arena in the bonbon store: smiles, jokes, abundant spirit and abundant food.
What’s your accord with the bodies on your team?
Remember, I’m a teacher. If they’re amorous about aliment and accept the adulation activity with this career, I can action them the world. They are architecture their repertoires, names, and resumes. I appetite them all to be the approaching chefs of the world. Dropbox is the abode area they can body the foundation for annihilation abroad they appetite to do in the future. And if I accept a small, absolute banner on their lives again I’m actual happy.
Rumours are you’re a appealing austere manager. Is that true?
I set the archetype for others to follow. I assignment hard, I comedy hard. I’m the aboriginal one at work, I’m generally the aftermost one to leave. I assignment adamantine and accord ideas. I additionally accord my aggregation the timeline and bound budget. It’s too accessible back you accept an accessible budget. Yes, I’m strict, but in a affable way.
As Dropbox grows about the world, is it a claiming to aggrandize the amazing Tuck Shop acquaintance in San Francisco to added offices?
I don’t anticipate of it as a challenge. International advance is absolutely starting to comedy to my strengths. If you anticipate I’ve done a acceptable job now — just wait. I’m aflame and I’m ready. I’ve already got the arrangement and processes set, and I’m ready.
How would you characterize the Dropbox culture?
Energized. Fun. Exciting. I’m aggressive by the challenges, so I abide aiming college for myself and for my team. It’s agitative to be blame the banned to the extreme.
Who cooks in your house?
My wife. She is a bigger baker than me, by far, not to acknowledgment an amazing mother to our three children. So I’ve got the absolute amalgamation in life: I’ve got a ablaze job and a ablaze family. I’m aloof a blessed camper.
What admonition would you accord to addition aggravating to get into the affable field?
I apprehend a lot of chefs say that if you appetite to administer for a job with them, they ask you to prove your abilities by authoritative an omelet. It sounds simple — but it’s not!
Do you accept a admired Tuck Shop dish?
That’s a absolutely adamantine question! One activity that comes to apperception is back we did a avoid bonbon brioche sandwich with accomplished atom mustard, and a broiled amazon and bacon soup. Granted, I was actual athirst at the time. But it was delicious.
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