For the first episode of The Nourishing Workplace, I interviewed McKenzie Phelan, the former Global Food Program Manager at Airbnb. McKenzie invited us inside Airbnb’s worldwide office kitchens and canteens and provided precious insight into their inner workings.
She also shared the strategies and ethos behind the globally-inspired, colorful meals they serve every day. From sourcing and waste to the culinary initiatives that bring employees together to support the core business, there’s much to learn from Airbnb’s model.
Here’s what McKenzie shared:
“[23:17] We understand that the core business is all about hospitality and belonging. And as a food team, I think it feels so natural that our philosophy is very embedded in the brand. But we look strategically for moments where there can be a certain resonance between the product and our products, the food. […]
Each menu that we serve is inspired by an Airbnb listing. Another way is that when we design our food spaces, mostly our smaller tea points or break rooms, we design those after kitchens that exist on Airbnb. Another thing we do bear out of Airbnb experiences, an initiative that began in 2016. One of the OKR for the food team for both 2018 and 2019 is to bring in one of these culinary experience hosts to do their experience in the office.
We will subsidize that cost and let them use our food spaces. It’s a way to expose our employees, not just to our cuisine—the chefs of Airbnb—but to a local expert who invests their time to be on our platform. For me, that has been a magical interpersonal success. I love meeting these experts, these connoisseurs of sorts.
From a food in the workplace standpoint, it reminds folks that food is much more than just a way to get fed, not to be hungry, that people have livelihoods around.”