Ed. note: This post is a part of our continuing blog series featuring the secret lives of our colleagues. Here, we hear from our very own Michael Nguyen – a Food & Employee Services manager – whose passion for the food industry led him from his finance cubicle at LinkedIn to the task of managing LinkedIn’s growing culinary needs.
Here’s his story…
I’ve always had a passion for food.
And recently, I had a chance to make my dreams become a reality.
After working for LinkedIn’s Finance team for more than three years, an opportunity came up to pursue a lifelong ambition at the company of my dreams, though it would mean switching career paths. LinkedIn gave me a chance to move from my former position to join the Food & Employee Services team managing LinkedIn’s food program. Of course, this was a no-brainer for me. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to follow my passion and fulfill my dream of pursuing a career in the food industry.
LinkedIn, like other companies here in the Silicon Valley, offers perks like free food to our employees. But with free food comes a responsibility to include a balanced and healthy menu each day. And, I get to live out my culinary dreams by working with food vendors, chefs and caterers to help provide exactly that – a balanced assortment of food, beverages and snacks – to our employees. I am working with a health and wellness manager, Michael Susi, to create a healthier food program for our employees, which includes labels to educate employees about nutrition and the use of Metabolic Typing as the nutritional philosophy, along with an emphasis on whole, natural, and unprocessed foods.
So, what’s a typical day like for me as LinkedIn’s resident “Food Guy”?
Well, it starts with figuring out which catered meals to bring in and serve to employees each day. We serve about 850 catered meals a day for employees at our on-site cafe. When working with our vendors, I try to accommodate a variety of tastes – by polling everyone from our team of engineers to our executives on our LinkedIn Groups page. We have sushi every Tuesday, bagels and doughnuts for breakfast on Friday mornings, and Indian and Korean bowls are delivered weekly.
Working at LinkedIn has also allowed me to grow my passion outside of work. In June of 2010, my girlfriend Angela and I started a catering and events business called Calidogs. We’ve taken an all-American classic — the hot dog, and infused different flavors to adapt to local Bay Area culinary tastes. Some of our creations include the Calidog, made with Japanese-inspired flavors such as roasted seaweed; and the Salsadog, made with homemade salsa ceviche. (see pictures above – Ed.) What started out as a hobby has become a grassroots business with dedicated fans on Facebook, Twitter, and of course, among LinkedIn employees.
One of my personal highlights was serving my colleagues in the Mountain View office CaliDogs fresh on the spot for the first time and hearing a ton of great feedback from my colleagues across the company. What I enjoy most is the satisfaction I get when people say they enjoy my selections. There’s nothing more gratifying than hearing people tell me, “Today’s lunch was great.”