It takes a whole lot of people to make sure your team’s office catering meals are covered from start to finish. But who the heck are they in the first place?! Take a peek behind the food – get to know the team at Chewse and our incredible local restaurant partners who make it all happen. This week we’re talking to a few of our corporate meal restaurant partners in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Hey, you! Yeah, you! Ever wonder how the heck all that beautiful food you see in your office catering meal gets to you in the first place? If you’re one of the many incredible office admins or office managers we work with, then you might have a pretty good understanding. And for those of you who stumbled upon this blog by accident, well then, you probably have no idea what we’re talking about! You’ve stopped on the right blog post, though.

Welcome to our new blog series! We’ll be highlighting all of the people that work hard to bring you tasty office catering straight to your office. Here we’ll share stories about our internal staff too, but right here, right now, it’s all about our rockstar restaurant partners.

Chef hand pulling noodles or pasta

What’s so special about ‘em?

In a word: everything! We only work with local restaurants. Our restaurants run the gamut from mom-and-pop shops, formal caterers, chart-toppers, and your soon-to-be-favorites alike. Our team of food experts search for all kinds of cuisines and meal experiences. 

We like to think of our office catering program as a tour around the world. A free tasting class of sorts on the flavors from Indonesia, Venezuela, the Sichuan province in China, Poland, and everywhere in between. All of these different cuisines meticulously crafted by people who are as passionate about their food as we are eating it! Whether they’re fresh in the game or grew up doing it, we work with restaurant industry mavens in each of our cities. 

So we’re kicking things off with a few stories from our office catering restaurant partners in San Francisco and Los Angeles – two of the most star-studded, boundary-pushing food scenes in the country. It’s where you’ll find chef-quality ice creams made with farmer’s market ingredients. Or Mexican food so good even Chef Bobby Flay had to surrender in the face of such bold flavors.

Ice cream cone from Sweet Rose Creamery

Los Angeles: a foodie paradise for globe-trotters and locavores

Los Angeles is a hot bed for fine, local produce – all grown just outside the city’s limits. Buying local produce is not just a commitment to environmentally sustainable practices (although that’s not nothin’!). It’s also about supporting the local community in the food supply chain. Whether it’s a small bakery who’ve been hand-shaping baguettes for 90 years or waiting in hellish traffic on the 10 Freeway for fresh eggs. 

Many of our office catering restaurant partners travel to the Santa Monica or Hollywood farmer’s market every week to either buy produce (yes, really!) or simply get inspiration from seasonal produce. Going to the source and spending time with these farmers on a Saturday or Sunday morning makes for quality meals that you won’t get in Subway or Panera office catering! 

Browsing the vibrant colors of summer berries or the earthy tones of fall and winter squashes is a treat for the eyes and a muse for the mind. Chatting face to face with the folks who’ve grown such beautiful ingredients for these chefs and owners to work with is almost an exercise is accountability. Treat these vegetables, herbs, fruits, and grains with respect and care they’ll give you the same treatment.

Sunset in LA

But even for those restaurants who don’t exclusively procure their food from farmer’s markets, a lot of them work with food distributors who do. Truxton’s, known for its globally-inspired menu with a heavy dose of Southwestern spice, works with larger companies like these. Nichole Van Court, Marketing and Operations Manager, shared with us that good relationships with large food distributors allows Truxton’s to work with smaller farmers. They’re a big restaurant, so maintaining individual relationships isn’t as easy. But they’re able to reliably source from small, local farmers because they work with a food distribution company who shares this dedication. 

These are the kinds of stories we like to elevate. Here we want to highlight three of our restaurant partners in Los Angeles: Palikao, a Moroccan restaurant inspired by family and fine dining. Borani Kitchen, serving up Persian food with a 25-year history of fine-tuning and perfecting with a virtual twist. And Sweet Rose Creamery, a chef-driven, seasonally-inspired, house-made (phew!) ice cream shop.

Lionel Pigeard, Chef & Owner, Palikao, Los Angeles

Tell us about your restaurant.

Palikao is the name of a small village in Algeria. My grandma was born there in 1910. Her food and my mum’s are what I grew up with. I cook her recipes and the ones I created and tasted in my travels. I have had 2 restaurants in Paris for 10 years and launched Palikao 3 years ago in LA. 

What’s your restaurant’s signature dish?

Moroccan couscous with chicken and veggies.

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?

15 years

What do you love about working in the restaurant industry?

You get to meet a lot of very different people.

What’s your favorite food of all time?

Watermelon, I can eat until I feel sick!

What’s in your fridge right now?

Some chicken tagine, cauliflower gratin, a lot of veggies, fruits, hummus…

Chef, Owner Lionel Pigeard
Borani Kitchen office catering

Hamid Firoozi, Owner, Borani Kitchen, Los Angeles

Tell us about your restaurant.

I have been in the food arena for the past 25 years. I am a food entrepreneur and have a passion for it! 

What’s your restaurant’s signature dish?

Kebabs

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?

25 years 

What do you love about working in the restaurant industry?

Seeing customers smile when they eat my food.

What’s your favorite food of all time?

Kebabs! 

What’s in your fridge right now?

Mandarins, fresh pistachios and saffron.

What’s your food thing? 

Salt on oranges!

Jen Bolbat, Pastry Chef, Sweet Rose Creamery, Los Angeles

Tell us about your restaurant.

We are part of the Rustic Canyon Restaurant Group, a family-owned, chef-driven group. We opened our first shop in 2010, excited to create nostalgic classic flavors. We are dedicated to making organic ice cream using the best ingredients we can get our hands on. 

What’s your restaurant’s signature dish?

Our classics: fresh mint made with organic peppermint leaves from Kenter Canyon Farms and house-made chocolate chips. And cookies & cream with freshly-baked chocolate cookie wafer crumbs that are hand folded into a heavenly, sweet cream base.

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?

11 years

What do you love about working in the restaurant industry?

It feels like a second family. You make so many connections and friendships – there’s always someone you can call when you need a hand. 

What’s your favorite food of all time?

Thai food! 

What’s in your fridge right now?

Miso paste, sauerkraut, coconut aminos, tons of apples, sprouting broccoli, radishes, oat milk, sourdough starter.

What’s your food thing? 

I love pickled things! I love adding a spoon full of something pickled to all of my meals if I can. Pickled onions, sauerkraut, pickled ginger, homemade pickles, kimchi, you name it…

Pastry Chef Jen Bolbat

San Francisco: innovation isn’t just for tech

San Francisco has always been a landmark restaurant city. On par with New York’s restaurant scene, San Francisco is home to 315 Michelin-starred restaurants (named this year alone). The city and its surrounding cities are home to a wealth of cuisines from all over the world.

Of course, how can we talk about the San Francisco restaurant scene without talking about technology…and more specifically, food delivery apps? Delivery companies have a complicated relationship with the city. At once, the rapid growth of these companies bring in folks from all over the world promising perks like vibrant cultures, commuter benefits, free office catering, and ping pong! All. the. ping. pong. To power technology that makes it more accessible for people to try really interesting and new foods they might not have otherwise. 

At the same time however, these companies – and the wealth surrounding them – greatly impact the ability of restaurants to stay in business. Skyrocketing rents and higher costs of food and labor make it tough for restaurants who already deal with tight margins. And when you add packaging costs and delivery fees that take a percentage of the total cost – woof. It’s hard out here for restaurants.

Embarcadero, San Francisco where we deliver office catering!

For some restaurants, it’s encouragement to get creative. The rise of fast-fine dining spots like Souvla, RT Rotisserie, and Barzotto (Chewse office catering partner!), have proverbially hacked the system. These joints take another massive restaurant trend, house- and hand-made foods, and strip all notions of a restaurant down to bare bones. They get back to basics with the meal experience and churn out Michelin-level food with unfussy service in unfussy digs. The result is some of the city’s most crave-worthy and innovative undertakings in the game. 

That’s how a lot of our office catering partner restaurants came to be. Office catering is a bit different – we plan meals in advance, so our restaurants know that they will be serving your office and they can plan accordingly. From humble beginnings to big rewards. 

Here we feature three restaurants who embody this scrappy, passionate mentality. First is pop-up turned instant-legends Square Pie Guys, churning out Detroit-like pizza with very-California ingredients. Next, before La Cocina, Alicia’s Tamales first sold her tender tamales on sidewalks. Fast forward a few years and she’s now the powerhouse that she is. And finally (for this round at least), Papalote Mexican Grill, a Mission staple with winning pedigree. 

Chef, Owner Marc Schechter of Square Pie Guys

Marc Schecter, Owner, Square Pie Guys, San Francisco

 Tell us about your restaurant.

We started as a pop up in the Lower Haight in September 2018, blew up over the next 6 – 8 months, and then opened a brick-and-mortar in July 2019.

What’s your restaurant’s signature dish?

Pepperoni Detroit-Style Pizza  

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?

2.5 years

What do you love about working in the restaurant industry?

LOL! [I’d have a] very different answer if you asked me before we opened a restaurant but I love interacting with our customers, hearing that they loved the pizza, and providing a great experience for someone with a food as ubiquitous as pizza. 

What’s your favorite food of all time?

It’s gotta be pizza! 

What’s in your fridge right now?

Nothing, I spend 80 hours a week in a restaurant hahah! 

What’s your food thing? 

Crispy everything! Fries crispy, crispy pizza, I like things crispy! 

Alicia Villanueva, Owner, Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, San Francisco

Tell us about your restaurant.

When I arrived to this country I was touched by the multicultural environment. I wanted to share my Mexican culture as well through food, through my tamales!

What’s your restaurant’s signature dish?

Tamales

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?

7 years

What do you love about working in the restaurant industry?

Getting to know many people and seeing their faces as they enjoy our Mexican cuisine. 

What’s your favorite food of all time?

Moles!!

[writer’s note: mole is a type of thick, slow-cooked sauce made up of dozens of spices and herbs cooked over a few days with meats and vegetables, originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. You probably know of the deep, dark brown-hued mole that gets its color from chocolate and hoja santa, an herb. There are, in fact, a bunch of different styles of moles! Our lucky San Francisco catering diners enjoy Alicia’s (low-key famous) moles in their Chewse office catering!]

What’s in your fridge right now?

Spaghetti

What’s your food thing? 

Mint!! I love to add mint on everything!!

Alicia, Chef/Owner of Alicia's Tamales
Victor Escobedo PAPALOTE

Victor Escobedo, CEO and President, Papalote Mexican Grill, San Francisco

Tell us about your restaurant.

We opened our doors in 1999 with the aim of serving authentic Mission-style burritos and dishes made fresh from scratch. In 2010 we beat Bobby Flay in the burrito episode of Food Network’s Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Chef Flay declared our Roasted Tomato Salsa the secret weapon, and it is now available in stores throughout California.

What’s your restaurant’s signature dish?

We love to make burritos and tacos! Our pollo al achiote grilled chicken breast is exceptional!

How long have you worked in the restaurant industry?

A little over 35 years.

What’s your favorite part about working in the restaurant industry?

Serving food that people can share with friends and family. Sharing is caring.

What’s your favorite food of all time?

French vanilla yogurt.

What’s in your fridge right now?

French vanilla yogurt, Papalote Salsa (Habanero), pancetta, leftover Hawaiian BBQ.

What’s your food thing?

I love pork and pineapple together.

We wouldn’t be able to bring you flavor-packed office catering without our restaurant partners. It’s the stories of our restaurant owners, chefs, catering managers, back-of-house-staff, you name it, and sharing their food and their passion with your office catering, that gives us so much joy. Get to know your office catering meals better with more of these profiles! Check back on our blog and Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to stay updated.