Ask an Asana employee what their favorite time of day is, and you’ll probably hear “breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” After all, meals are an opportunity to step away from work and socialize. But at Asana, meals are even more than that. The culinary program literally provides the fuel required to build our product and is at the core of how Asana empowers teams to do great things.
Asana’s culinary philosophy
We provide our staff with nutritionally balanced meals three times a day. Our skilled chefs and nutrition team plan menus around ingredients that keep us energized and working at our highest potential.
Most ingredients are locally sourced from sustainable and organic farms and our recipes are adapted to include fresh vegetables, healthy fats, and natural sweeteners.
This means individuals on our staff don’t have to worry about nutritional balance or crashing mid-afternoon after a heavy meal. It saves time and money too, since Asanas don’t worry about groceries or cooking at home and packing a lunch; it’s hard to put a dollar amount on the value our culinary team provides.
The culinary program literally provides the fuel required to build our product and is at the core of how Asana empowers teams to do great things.
It all started with a man cooking in his own kitchen. Donnie Thompson, who leads the program, has grown it to include a fully equipped commercial kitchen, our own 125 seat Cafe Luna, and a team of 12.
We sat down with a few members of the culinary team to see what’s cooking in the Asana kitchen and how this program is essential to our company’s success.
How did the culinary program get started?
Chef Donnie: “When JR [our co-founder] said he wanted a chef for 13 people and I was referred, I told him he didn’t need one. But he was adamant about starting a food program early on, making it a focal point not just for the team’s health and well-being, but also as part of the culture.”
Who is behind the program?
Chef Donnie: “We’ve got a unique team of talented, passionate people who truly care about the food they’re making. Because our team is both back and front of the house, and we serve the same people every day, we’re committed to doing our best and having fun while we’re at it. ”
Because our team is both back and front of the house, and we serve the same people every day, we’re committed to doing our best and having fun while we’re at it.
Chef Amy: “Our work is great compared to a restaurant, where there’s so much pressure on every little thing. Because a lot of the stresses are removed, we can turn on our music, joke around, and just cook.”
What sets Asana Culinary apart from other food environments you’ve seen or experienced?
Chef Amy: “We have the freedom to do cool stuff. We don’t have any constraints on the type of cuisine we serve, and we’re encouraged to try lots of different things.”
Chef Kim: “After visiting an Asana customer, I now understand how much we impact other companies. Since then I take even more pride in working at Asana and in making sure everyone is happy and healthy.”
Chef Wade: “Our work environment is amazing. People are always thanking us, our benefits program encourages us to become better people, and we’re able to put our creativity into something that will improve the lives of our team.”
What’s your favorite thing about life in the kitchen?
Chef Wade: “We have a family meal every day. Right after lunch, everyone sits down for a break, chats, and gets to relax. It’s nice to get the whole team together when we’re not cooking or serving.”
Chef Amy: “Music is the lifeblood of our day in the kitchen. We listen to all kinds of music and every once in awhile someone will just rock out. We don’t take ourselves seriously at all.”
Chef Kim: “We joke around with one another, whether it’s hiding each other’s Halloween candy or having water gun fights on someone’s birthday. We’re like a family.”
What role does nutrition play in meals at Asana?
After getting questions about nutritional value and experiencing a growing team with dietary restrictions, Asana decided to bring on culinary nutritionist, Leandra Rouse, of TuneUp Wellness. She supports the team in expanding their understanding of nutritional science.
Leandra’s program has also served to educate Asanas across the company, offering a monthly workshop with a different focus. In January, there was a “Debunking detox” workshop, and before flu season, an immunity workshop.
Leandra: “Beyond education, having a culinary nutritionist advising your team helps ensure that everything coming from the kitchen is done intentionally. For example, before a big launch we serve more brain-supporting foods; your daily breakfast is rich in protein & complex carbs for all-day energy; and you get house-made, nourishing afternoon snacks to help you stay focused and energized.”
What are you excited about for the future of Asana Culinary?
Chef Donnie: “We’re growing across all of our locations—San Francisco, New York, and Dublin—and I’m excited to make sure that all of our products are picked out mindfully. It’s an exciting challenge to scale and stick to our values.”
Chef Kim: “We’ve opened our office on the third floor, and we now have a barista! As the company grows, so does the culinary team, and we’re lucky to be in a position to meet new asanas as they join, whether it’s in Cafe Luna or at the coffee bar.”
Chef Wade: “I’m really excited for our increased focus on what we’re sourcing and where it’s coming from. We’re going to educate Asanas on where their meats are coming from, helping the entire company learn about farms, animals, and best practices. I even think vegans and vegetarians would appreciate this information!”
I’m really excited for our increased focus on what we’re sourcing and where it’s coming from.
We’re really proud of our culinary team and the culture they foster. It’s an investment of resources and time, but the impact it has on our team is palpable and well worth it. If you’d like to stay abreast of what they’re cooking for us through photos, menus, and recipes, like their page on Facebook or follow them on Instagram. What does your company do to stay nourished, healthy, and productive? Tell us in the comments.
Interested in building the future of work with us (and joining us at mealtime)? We’re hiring.