Chef Charlie Ayers lives by the creed "eat, drink, and be merry." For the past 15 years, he has spread his faith as a working chef, zealously providing eclectic and unique gourmet food and drink in an ambiance of music and fun.
Chef Charlie is most widely known as the former executive chef for Google Inc., a position he won in November of 1999 in a cook-off, judged by the company's 40 employees. By the time he left Google, Chef Charlie and his team of five sous chefs and 150 employees in 10 cafes across the company's Mountain View, California, headquarters were serving 4,000 lunches and dinners daily-all of the same quality and variety as in that initial interview. In his six years at Google, Chef Charlie's contribution to the company attracted media attention around the world. He and his cafes were featured in the New York Times, London Times, France's Le Capital, the Washington Post, Food Management, Restaurants Institutions, The Food Network, and many others, as well as occupying an entire chapter ("Charlie's Place") in David Vise's book, The Google Story.
While at Google, Chef Charlie established a new standard of "fine food for the fast crowd," and gained a reputation for innovative, flavorful, and healthful foods that are good not only for you but for the planet. His unique operation was visited by such culinary luminaries as Cat Cora, Mario Batali, Martin Yan, Bruce Aidell, Bradley Ogden, and Michael Chiarello. In addition to nourishing many innovators of Silicon Valley and the high-tech world, Chef Charlie has had the pleasure of cooking for such luminaries as Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Sultan of Brunei, Queen Noor of Jordan, Robin Williams, Bono and The Edge, and Cold Play and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Chef Charlie began his professional career working for Hilton Hotels in New Jersey, at the Meadowlands and Parsippany locations, eventually leaving to attend culinary school in Providence, Rhode Island, at Johnson & Wales University. Chef Charlie then worked at several well-known restaurants in the Providence and Boston areas; however, his burning desire to learn, to travel, and to taste new flavors, prompted him to leave New England behind him and head out west.
It was in California that Chef Charlie's love of music and food came together: shortly after arriving, he struck up a friendship with Chez Ray, the chef for The Grateful Dead. Chef Charlie gladly helped feed the band and crew in exchange for admission to shows, and ultimately took over catering for the band after Mr. Garcia's time on this planet had expired. Chef Charlie catered for The Other Ones , aka The Dead. Continuing to indulge his two loves for music and food, Chef Charlie was frequently found backstage and in green rooms, catering gigs for some of the biggest acts Bill Graham Presents brought to San Francisco. He has often been part of the team of local celebrity chefs providing intimate backstage catering for large open-air music festivals.
Currently, Chef Charlie just opened his new Calafia Cafe and Market A Go Go in downtown Palo Alto. His concept demonstrates that "being green" is good for the consumer, team members, environment, and local community. Like the "fine food for the fast crowd" Chef Charlie refined at Google, the fundamental goal of Calafia Cafe & Market a Go Go is to provide the greater public with healthful, artisan-style, sustainable cuisine in a fast and affordable format. In 2008, Chef Charlie released his first cookbook, a collection of smart recipes, many of which are offered at Calafia. Chef Charlie is available for what he calls "innovative corporate well-being" consulting-restructuring corporate food service programs. He is also designing Micro Kitchen / Food Service programs tailored to fit the individual company's size and desired corporate culture. In his spare time, Chef Charlie sits on several advisory boards for various non profit charitable organizations such as ChefsForHumanity.Org, as well as ROCKtheEARTH.Org to name a few.
When Chef Charlie isn't busy consulting start up tech companies, writing cookbooks, coordinating food service and backstage catering teams at open air music festivals, or ramping up to open his flagship restaurant operation, he enjoys relaxing at home cooking for friends and family trying out new and old favorite recipes , but don't be surprised if you spot Chef Charlie visiting local famous farmers markets across the country, while wearing one of his favorite crazy Hawaiian shirts. He lives on the peninsula south of San Francisco, near Stanford University, with his wife, Kimberly, and their son, Chance.