Food in the tech workplace circa 2022

In preparation for my upcoming trip to the San Francisco office, we had a list of to-dos before we arrive, including a few apps to download, a health questionnaire I need to fill out daily before I arrive at the office (to ensure I am COVID negative, or as close to negative as can be), and to get the Zerocater food ordering app downloaded onto my phone. I’d never heard of Zerocater before and wasn’t quite sure why I had to download any food app for my work trip, as when I heard that food was catered at work, I figured it was like the way it was at my last company when I came, where there would be buffet-style food laid out for us to eat at specific time blocks, and that would be it.

Zerocater is not like that, though: you actually have options from a handful of local restaurants every single day your company sponsors lunch, and from those restaurants, you can choose select dishes to get. This does a few good things: 1) it supports local restaurants and businesses directly instead of stealing business away from them, 2) it eliminates the inevitable food waste that comes from buffet-style eating, 3) you can order the quantity of food (by weight) that you request, which even further minimizes waste. The app is really customized: it presents a number of mains and sides (with lots of details and photos) and asks how you would like them as options. Then, based on your feedback, it creates recommendations for you based on what you’ve indicated you like. After I finished this quick questionnaire, it seemed to sum up my food tastes as leaning heavily towards Asian, South American, and Mexican cuisine. Vietnamese cuisine also got especially called out. Not bad at all.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in an office and had the opportunity to enjoy catered food, and seeing how customized it is now and anti-waste it is makes me happy. There are some perks I do miss that you get while working in the office, and free lunch is definitely one of them.

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