I was super excited with invitations to do Vegan Chocolate book events at two of Google’s California offices. The first was as a Zagat’s Guest Chef at YouTube Google Headquarters in San Bruno, CA, to be followed the following week by an Authors@Google chocolate dessert demo at Google-LA. What I didn’t know at the time was how much more exciting my trip to California would be, thanks to special vegan happenings around the Google dates. I was super busy and very well fed, from the minute I landed at SFO, May 28th.
Day one: The Plant Cafe Organic
My friend Cathleen, a vegan friendly omnivore and culinary professional, picked me up for an early dinner. We decided on The Plant Cafe Organic in nearby Burlingame. All of The Plant locations feature organic, sustainably grown foods and the vegan options are many. The host, Sarah, greeted us very warmly. We got chatting about vegan cuisine and I gave her my business card. Cathleen and I choose a couple of starters and salad mains, which we thoroughly enjoyed with some California white wine.
We had decided against dessert until sous chef Amiel Baesa came out of the kitchen with a slice of a heavenly raw berry cheesecake. Coincidently, executive chef, Sasha Weiss has been one of my student at the Natural Gourmet Instiute, way back in the 90’s when I was a CTP instructor. Sasha Weiss, who was off that night, has a very impressive resume that includes executive pastry chef at San Francisco’s famed Millennium restaurant.
After dinner, we wandered into the big indie bookstore next door. I gave the manager, Earle, my card (Lesson here: carry your business cards!) and he said, “see you tomorrow, Fran, at your YouTubeGoogle event with the books.” Now I felt even more comfortable.
Day 2: YouTube Google Headquarters, San Bruno
I was given a tour of the two YouTube Google buildings, plus the kitchens and cafes and snack corners that are everywhere. I noticed that all of the food, even the fruit, was labeled quite specifically. (Bananas: Rainforest Certified.) Trent Page, the director of culinary, said it is a mission of the company to educate the “Googlers” about ingredients, ethics, and even why taking just enough food is the way to go. With so many people to feed several times a day, plus snacks, Google has enough buying power to make a difference. I felt really good about Google “voting with their very big fork.”
The pastry department made twenty beautifully glazed Chocolate Tortes to Live For (two were Gluten-Free) and served the cakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream during lunch. I answered questions about ingredients, about vegan desserts in general and signed lots of books. I was having the best time ever, but when I saw my cookbook video, plus others of my YouTubes (including one with Grant Butler for Oregonian and an oldie with Caryn Harglass) on multiple screens, well, that was a thrill.
The day just kept getting better. While I was having lunch, I saw that a friend from another time, long ago had entered the café. And so it was that the former executive vegan chef educator at Google at Mountainview, Elizabeth Schindler and I were reunited after almost 30 years. Now, Elizabeth and I would have a chance to catch up on the drive to the acutal Miyoko’s Kitchen, where the atisan vegan cheese is made, aged, hand-wrapped and sent out.
To be continued…