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Feed the Office Day: Our Lunchtime Tradition

By Dan Newcomer on March 27, 2015

You’ve probably seen photos of the Think Brownstone team in action, huddled together mid-conversation in our cozy Conshohocken and Philadelphia Think Spaces. These spaces are central meeting places where we gather to discuss UX design, strategy, business goals, company to-do’s, and upcoming projects.

But at lunch, Think Space discussions shift to more important topics: our favorite cereals, whether ghosts and aliens are real, inventions that may make the world a better place (like BeefGurt®), and what our respective G.I. Joe code names and trucker handles would be. The real stuff.

Once a week, these conversations happen during a Think Brownstone tradition we like to call Feed the Office Day.

Feed the Office Day

Originally called Soup Day, the idea came from Dave (who also devised our quarterly beer swap), and the premise is pretty simple: every Wednesday, a different Think Brownstone team member makes lunch for the office. The menu sometimes consists of soup (and almost always strays from soup). This is a hefty duty, as on any given day each studio can be filled with 20 people or more.

When I came to Think Brownstone a little over a year ago, I was nervous about cooking for Feed the Office Day, but also excited. I get excited about food – I love food. I also love sharing time at a table with great company. It’s no wonder so many of us look forward to checking out a new restaurant or sitting down to a holiday dinner. The recipe is always the same; enjoying a meal and spending time with people you care about makes for a great experience.

What makes Feed the Office Day especially fun is that each team member brings a different approach to the duty. One week we’ll enjoy a dish that echoes that team member’s own family tradition, like TJ’s Greek soup, Avgolemono. On another week we’ll enjoy a dish that just makes sense, like Jen’s Hot Dog Bar (legendary) or Amanda’s Waffle Bar (also legendary). It’s that spice and individuality that makes each Feed the Office Day interesting, and I for one am grateful to work for a company that encourages this kind of creativity.

Lunch Together Makes Sense

Carving out time for this tradition is a smart move.

First, breaking away from the monitor or a meeting to take an hour to enjoy a home-cooked meal (and it really feels like home) is a treat in itself. It’s always tough to set this time aside with such a busy schedule, but the tradition reminds me that I work for a company that encourages these interactions, making us more productive in turn.

It’s also rare to find a workplace that values a tradition like Feed the Office Day. So many studios and offices are focused on staff productivity and efficiency–both great things–but the habit of working through lunch is not always the healthiest practice. Think Brownstone is a place where work/life balance and getting to know our co-workers is just as important as producing our best design work (and in fact, the former directly influences the latter).

Our Feed the Office Day tradition isn’t a forced activity–it’s communal, relaxed, and homespun. And a hilarious conversation ensues each week. Sharing a meal with good company has been the cornerstone of healthy friendships throughout history. It’s no mistake that this tradition has formed naturally at Think Brownstone.

The Dishes

The first time that I was a Feed the Office Day co-chef (we sometimes do weekly team-ups due to our size), I cheated a bit and had some help from my wife, Courtney, who I think was nervous about me flying solo. My partner and I put together a Sweet Potato & Leek Soup with Blue Cheese and Cranberry Crostini, and it was pretty awesome.

As time went on, the dishes got more interesting and each meal topped the last. Bruce and Phil have been documenting the ongoing series for over a year now. Here are some of the highlights:

 

 

I’m looking forward to cooking again for Feed the Office Day, and I plan to bring my A-Game. This is tradition.