Mouth watering recipes from Charlie Ayers – the man who fed Google

With the Holidays approaching and the impending arrival of family both immediate and distant, one question is on the lips of every host and hostess is –“How am I going to feed all these people?”

I only have a family of four and there are plenty of times I don’t know what to feed them, let alone a large crowd of people.

Who better to offer tips on feeding a large group than Google’s first chef? His name is Charlie Ayers and his is now the chef and owner of Calafia Café, located in Palo Alto, California. He is is also the author of the cookbook, Food 2.0: Secrets from the Chef that Fed Google. Talk about an interesting book. Just the title alone intrigues me.

Charlie was with Google from the start. He is employee #56, having won the position in a cook-off in 1999 that was judged by the company’s then 40 employees. While with Google, the number of employees ballooned and Chef Ayers was serving up 4,000 lunches a day. Can you imagine that – 4,000 people daily! WOW!

Under his leadership, Google earned accolades as having some of the best and healthiest at-work food around. I wish more companies would offer HEALTHY lunch options. The cafeteria where my husband used to work only offered things like burger and fries. Would it have been too much to ask for some grilled chicken and a salad?

Charlie was kind enough to share some of his mouth watering recipes with us. Unfortunatly I don’t have pictures to go with them, but just from the descriptions they are making me drool. Maybe not having a visual is a good thing. LOL! I did use stock photography.

These recipes would be great for the holiday season too.

All recipes are posted with permission. 🙂

Homemade Baked Beans Recipe

Serves 4-6 people


– 1.5 lbs (3 cups) dried small white beans, or navy beans or cannellini beans

– 1.5 cups vegetable broth

– 1 cup mushroom broth

– ½ cup tamari

– ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms

– 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste mixed with ½ cup of vegetable stock until smooth

– ½ cup honey

–  ½ cup organic brown sugar

– 1 tsp cayenne pepper

– 1 Bay leaf

– 2 tablespoons dried mustard

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– sautéed minced onion

Cook in a crockpot

– Soak navy beans overnight. I’ve soaked longer — up to 12 hours — for even softer baked beans.

– Drain beans and rinse off.

– Add all the ingredients. Stir all ingredients together.

– Cover Crock Pot and cook 6-7 hours on high, or 10-12 hours on low. These slow cooking times are approximate, so cook until the beans are soft and the sauce is rich. Add water to the Crock Pot, if needed

Eyeball Warning!  

If you like your eyeballs, do yourself a solid and refrain from opening the lid during the early hours of cooking. Dried mustard is volatile stuff, and the fumes will burn your pupils if you dare peep into the pot. This is a great dish to serve with Tofu Hot Dogs.

Calafia Gingered Mashed Yam

Prep time: 15 mins cook time: 20 mins

Serves 6


–  1/4 cup pickled ginger

– salt to taste

– 2 tbsp butter unsalted organic

– 1 tsp. nutmeg

– 1/2 cups sour cream (organic low fat)

– 2 lbs organic yams, peeled and cut into even sized discs


Steam yam with sliced picked ginger pieces in stove top bamboo steamer or in counter top electric steamer until tender (about 10-15 mins, depending on the size.) Drain.

– Place in a large-ish bowl and mash with potato masher or pass through a vegetable mill or potato ricer, the later of the three options will produce a fluffier and smoother end result.

– Add butter and sour cream. Mix well with rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Season with salt and nutmeg and fresh ground pepper blend.

Butternut Chilijack

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes.

Cook time: 25-30 minutes. 


– 2 butternut squashes, peeled, seeded, and diced

– 2 red onions, diced

– ¼ cup sliced jalapeño chilies (from a can or jar)

– 1 tbsp mild chili powder

– ¼ tsp cayenne (optional)

– Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

– 2 tbsp grapeseed oil

– 2 tomatoes, diced, or 1 cup drained, canned crushed tomatoes

– 2 cups frozen kernels, thawed

– 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

– A handful of fresh cilantro leaves, torn in pieces


– Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

– Combine the squash, onions, and chilies in a roasting pan and season with the chili powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

– Drizzle the grapeseed oil over and toss well.

– Roast until just tender but still with some texture, 25-30 minutes.

-Remove from the oven and tip into a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, corn, Monterey Jack cheese, and cilantro. Mix gently until the cheese begins to melt. Serve warm.

Brussels sprouts with Crimini Mushrooms


2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, cleaned and shredded

– 1 lb. crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

– 1 ea. bunch fresh thyme, washed and picked, lightly chopped

– 4 Ea. cloves fresh garlic, peeled, cleaned and minced

– ¼ Cup good quality olive oil (we use California olive oil)


After you’ve washed and prepared everything indicated above, pre-heat a large sauté pan or a medium sized braising skillet.

– Add olive oil into pan, add shredded Brussels sprouts into pan, stir around quickly to ensure vegetables are evenly coated in olive oil, season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

– Once Brussels sprouts begin to turn a bright green color, add in garlic, thyme and mushrooms continue to cook until Brussels sprouts begin to reach a rich caramelized color and garlic is very fragrant.

Serve family style, great with freshly grated pecorino cheese and a hint of fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Vegan Curried Butternut Squash, Kale & Millet


6 oz vegan curry sauce

– 2 Cups diced and blanched butternut squash

– 6 Cups raw dinosaur kale

– 2 Cups steamed millet

– 3 Tbsp grape seed oil


Pre heat a medium sized sauté pan or medium sized braising skillet.

– Add in grape seed oil, add in butternut squash, get a little color on it.

– Add in kale and stir or toss until, kale is fully dropped.

– Add in vegan curry sauce at this point, bring to a simmer.

– Finish with the millet, adjust seasoning to you desired level of spiciness or salt.

For more information about Charlie Ayers’ restaurant Calafia Cafe’ please visit www.CalafiaPaloAlto.com. Don’t forget to chekc out his book, Food 2.0: Secrets from the Chef that Fed Google. You can also check out www.CharlieAyers.com.


*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. Any opinions expressed are my own.






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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. mm that looks so good. making me hungry. so hard to read these blog recipes when i’m 9 months pregnant!

  2. The Baked beans looks good…

    I wish this had been a perk when I was sweating it out in front of a computer 20 hours a day during the tech boom… LOL

    mtdoonmeister at gmail dot com

  3. I like that his recipes all seem healthy and easy.

  4. judy gardner says:

    thank u for posting these recipes – they are interesting to say the least! i think the baked beans and brussel sprouts sound especially good. i have never used mushroom broth, and i hate to admit it, but i dont know what tamari is! i think that i will be trying the baked beans sometime in the near future!