At the core of Etsy's business is a fierce dedication to, and celebration of the community. The company owes its success to the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the vendors in their robust online global marketplace. Their Brooklyn headquarters embodies the spirit of the brand, and it's creators. Every nook and cranny of the office is filled with arts and crafts from around the world.
Forging strong relationships with their community online is just as important to the brand offline, and is reflected not only in their office decor, but in their new internal food program, Eatsy.
Eatsy is designed to build community through food. With a goal to sustain and nourish their employees, Eatsy provides a ripe opportunity for employees and guests to connect over a shared meal prepared by local catering partners whose core values align with Etsy's. Locally and responsibly sourced meals are served twice-weekly and contribute to the brand's larger vision of reimagining the food system and building a more fulfilling and lasting world.
We joined Etsy for a meal prepared by the amazing team at Harvest & Revel, whose food is not only delicious and beautiful but extremely thoughtful and created with the intention to provoke larger conversations around food and culture.
“EATSY” INCUBATOR PROGRAM
Eatsy began in 2009, the incubator program began this year. It pairs experienced Eatsy caterers with values-aligned new caterers that haven't had the opportunity to cater for groups of our large size.
Our Eatsy Incubator Mentors go through the entire lunch prep process with their mentees. They cover ordering practices, prep schedules, sourcing practices, menu planning, and service logistics so that the mentees are set up to be successful for their first lunch in our space.
We just finished our first round. We are trying to do one a quarter. In a lot of ways, the easiest thing to do is make the food. It’s hard, however to find partners who share the same values that we are looking for and who have the same considerations about waste and sourcing. That is the hardest part of my job - finding folks who work in line with those parameters.
The girls at Harvest & Revel are so in line with everything that we wanted in terms of the philosophy and the sourcing of the meal, but have never fed this many people. So myself and one of my teammates who is a consultant for us, and my manager, we started talking about how we can lift people up and support the folks that we really admire and feel good about what they are doing. That’s how the incubator program started. We decided we would pair them with a mentoring group that comes in twice a month. They have been with us for almost 4 years now. The name of their cafe is 1136 - they are incredible teachers. In a lot of ways the gold standard of what I look for.
They went through a three-step process where they shadowed the mentors for two meals, they learned how to order in bulk, they learned how to prep on a scale that they needed to be on, and they had to do service. For the third meal, the mentors did the shadowing, and Harvest & Revel did the production and the ordering. They were constantly supported through the whole process. They just knocked it out of the park. It was such a home run, they came in and blew everyone away!
We are always learning. That is the nature of the beast. Recently we completely ran out of kale salad - there was a last minute run down the street to get more kale, and a flurry of washing and chopping. Which frequently happens. We are learning a lot on our feet since moving into this bigger office space. I spend a lot of time telling people we missed our mark today, I have to sometimes tell 250 people we ran out of lunch. But that’s okay. Capacity planning is hard. It’s a bummer to have to deal with that part of this process, but Eatsy as a whole is really open and no one has to rsvp and guests are always welcome. So there are a lot of big question marks that are hanging in the air.
It’s such a great recruiting tool, and a way for employees to show off to their friends and family. It’s built to be an open table. Where people can share. But we had 87 guests last week for example, so we are just trying to get better at guessing.
We have some guys at the company called office hackers. I had a data problem where I used to stand around and count people with these handheld clickers. It was making my eyes bleed, so I went to them and said we need to figure out how many people are coming to these lunches, can you help? So they created these check in systems. All of the data is uploaded to a spreadsheet so we can track over time how many people are flowing through. There is a lot of coordination that goes into it. It’s especially challenging for the chefs who want to know how many people are dairy free for example. Dealing with those dietary restrictions. The baseline for the Eatsy meals is that they are gluten free and vegan. We have every single allergy under the sun...we have over 500 people in the office and we feed about 450 diners that come through on average. It’s a lot. It makes it feel smaller and more intimate when we cater to some of the bigger dietary needs.
Eatsy meals happen every Tuesday and Thursday. We rotate through caterers and we have a lot of the same businesses come back again and again. What is so great, is that we are able to funnel so much capital to small businesses that our values align with.
With our overall food program, we make decisions that contribute to fundamentally changing the agricultural system. We support local businesses who are fiercely passionate about the sources of food they bring in - local, sustainably grown and harvested, as well as in season. It’s actually really interesting because we will have different chefs submitting menus to me at the same time, and a lot of them will be very similar because they are all working off of the same seasonal ingredients.
So when Spring comes around, and it’s time to eat asparagus it’s so exciting because you are so sick of eating potatoes!
Waste is a big part of this process as well. We weigh our trash everyday. We are part of the mayor’s zero waste challenge. Traditionally, food service is a lot of trash and packaging and stuff like that. So we do a lot of coaching and discuss ways in which we can minimize things like that. Everything Harvest & Revel brought in today are in reusable containers that we will wash and give back to them. There is plastic wrap, but all of that gets recycled. Really the only landfill trash we see in the meal are gloves. So that’s a big part of it. We don’t want it to be a throw away experience. We are constantly trying to fine tune it.
EATING & LEARNING
On the best day, it’s my dream that employees are learning something from the Eatsy meals, and they aren’t just hungry and want to eat. We encourage employees to really engage with the program.
I feel very strongly that everyone should know and appreciate the amount of work that goes into making food. The program as a whole loves to celebrate that. When we were designing the space, we wanted to allow people the opportunity to engage with the chefs and the caterers as much as possible.
Additionally, with less seating than the amount of people we are serving, it does create those organic moments where people are forced to ask if they can squeeze in here and there. We also wanted to incorporate different size seating arrangements. People who want to read the paper and do work can sit alone. People who want to come in and sit with their whole team can do that as well. The great thing about the rest of the building is that there are all of these other places people can go to just tuck away. Having it at a certain time and a limited amount of times a week, makes it special. It’s not just available all day everyday. You come and you get to try something new. With all the restaurants opening around us, we are still able to serve a standout meal experience from the neighborhood offerings.
In our old space, we used to literally be on top of each other. The design of the new space encourages conversation. We wanted to promote interaction. We also really wanted to make sure that the folks that come in feel like they are part of the team as well. We have a little gratitude sign up there. We really wanted to post it somewhere where people could see it because it’s a special thing to be able to do this work, and be able to do it in the way that we do. After days of prep it’s gone in 2 hours. So the baseline is gratitude.
The meal today was inspired by one of the most famous songs of Fairouz, a beloved Arab singer. This is the theme song for our meal - It means I love you in the summer.
THE CATERER - HARVEST & REVEL
A conversation with Ora Wise
The cuisine that this meal is inspired by is of North Africa and the Middle East. There is so much crossover in the culinary world of Arab, middle eastern and north African food. While our policies as a country towards those lands are so exploitative and destructive. I am jewish and was born in Jerusalem and have been working all of my life to try to change my community’s attitude towards Israel and its treatment of Palestinians and the stealing of the land and their culture, including their food.
The way I grew up there and here was eating a lot of the foods that you ate today because north African jews and Palestinians who were colonized when Israel was created brought those foods into everyone’s experience.
How we ended up with this menu is through that our sous chef, Ana - when she graduated culinary school a couple months ago she went to visit her sister in Morocco. When we were brainstorming menus for the meal today I thought, let’s try to cook a meal that we really know that comes from us. It doesn't necessarily belong to us, but she has this connection to Morocco and I have grown up with these flavors all of my life. I grew up vegetarian so these are what I learned to cook, my most familiar foods.
The name of the summer salad, “I love you in the summertime”. That name came up in June when I did a dinner as part of the Allied Media Conference in Detroit in collaboration with Earthworks Urban Farm. We did a dinner with Iraqi cuisine and Detroit produce.
I was mentoring my Iraqi American co chef. She was developing recipes, and I was giving her feedback on how to scale them up and how to make them seasonal and local. So the salad evolved as the only not totally more traditional Iraqi salad. We had all of these garlic scraps, summer squash, and carrot tops that we didn’t want to waste, so we made a carrot top vinaigrette.
It so exemplified that fusion of place and time and tradition and community. So for me I decided to give that story to Katie Rose at Etsy when we set up the menu because I feel like here in Dumbo and with Etsy, its an opportunity to educate people about what they are eating - learning a little something about where the food comes from and the people and the lands that created these dishes and these flavor combinations who are so often invisibilized when we take their stuff. So that’s the story!
Kafta in tahini sauce
Ground beef, yellow onion, tomato, parsley, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, cumin, sesame, oil, lemon
Chickpeas, garlic, onion, parsley, cilantro, flour, cumin, cardamom, coriander, sesame seeds
Tunisian Saffron Spinach Rice with roasted cauliflower
Jasmine rice, preserved lemon, dates, fried onion, parsley
roasted zucchini, mixed lettuces, garlic chives, pumpkin seeds carrot top vinaigrette
Creamy pomegranate pepper sauce
Spiced tomato sauce