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Former Google head chef recalls 'humble,' fashionably late Steve Jobs

post #1 of 37
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Google's first head chef this week offered a rare glimpse into the personal life of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, recalling that frequent visits to his restaurant showed the tech guru was a humble, if not fashionably late, individual.

Charlie Ayers recollects that Jobs was humble and accommodating patron who was well-respected by guests at the Google "super chef's" restaurant Calafia Cafe, which is frequented by tech industry giants, reports Forbes.

Jobs sometimes texted Ayers with last-minute reservation requests, though knowing that the restaurant was busy, he wouldn't expect to be seated immediately and instead waited patiently at the bar until his usual table was open.

"[Jobs] would walk in and it would be like Moses parting the Red Sea," Ayers said. "He would see his table was occupied and he'd go and sit down and relax. People knew and they were like 'I'll move,' but he was a very humble person in terms of that. He didn't ask people to move or anything, he waited."

The chef tells the story of an Easter Sunday where Jobs called asking for a dinner reservation. Ayers knew the restaurant was full to capacity, so he set up a makeshift table in the small market attached to the dining hall. Despite the less than ideal seating location next to the food coolers, Jobs was reportedly content just being able to share a meal with his family.

Calafia Cafe opened in January, 2009 and hosts the "who's who" of technology, being so busy that the restaurant will normally serve 250 meals even on a Tuesday night.

Ayers said that the patrons of his restaurant were always very respectful and would often offer to give up their seat if eating at Jobs' usual table. The former Apple chief was mostly left alone even though many customers knew who he was, though Ayers notes one incident when Jobs was interrupted during a meal.

"Only one time did we have a guest come over and approach him at his table, and it was a little boy," Ayers said. "He wanted his autograph and Steve was very obliging to him and very nice."

Ayers, formerly a personal chef to a family of 14, first began his stint at Google in 1999 after a successful audition for founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin. As Google expanded, his 50 meal a day job turned into serving between 10,000 and 15,000 employees per day. Ayers left the tech company in 2006 to open his restaurant where many Google employees, including Page and Brin, still eat.

post #2 of 37
LOL, one can imagine the "I'll move" factor. In silicon valley after all.
post #3 of 37
"His" table was occupied so he waited. That's "humble?" It's more like what is expected of everyone. Thus, it would also be correct to say he wasn't a jerk about it.

How is this information deserving of any mention anywhere?
post #4 of 37
Thanks for sharing this. Somehow Walter Isaacson failed to interview Ayers, and we're left with a biography that highlights Steve's jerk wad side. For shame. He was a complex personality.

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post #5 of 37
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Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Thanks for sharing this. Somehow Walter Isaacson failed to interview Ayers, and we're left with a biography that highlights Steve's jerk wad side. For shame. He was a complex personality.

I sort of agree with this...the biography did seem to dwell on his peculiarities!
post #6 of 37
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Oh the irony of Click to Flash!

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post #7 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post

"His" table was occupied so he waited. That's "humble?" It's more like what is expected of everyone. Thus, it would also be correct to say he wasn't a jerk about it.

How is this information deserving of any mention anywhere?

For those who appreciate Jobs and what he did it is just a another tidbit about his life, the man that most of us never heard about, so we are grateful for these little articles.

As for you, why did you bother reading it or commenting, troll be gone.
post #8 of 37
I don't think Steve wanted to be or acted like a celebrity. Despite what the press made him out to be, he was a real person. I personally had a couple of encounters with him, most recently at Izzy's Bagels on California Street in Palo Alto. He was in there with his two younger daughters trying to communicate his bagel order with the non-English speaking staff. I didn't bother him, as I could tell he just wanted to get his order and get the heck out of there.
post #9 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post

"His" table was occupied so he waited. That's "humble?" It's more like what is expected of everyone. Thus, it would also be correct to say he wasn't a jerk about it.

How is this information deserving of any mention anywhere?

In the same way that you don't have to read it nor comment...
post #10 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post

"His" table was occupied so he waited. That's "humble?" It's more like what is expected of everyone. Thus, it would also be correct to say he wasn't a jerk about it.

Hear! Hear!
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post #11 of 37
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Originally Posted by AdamIIGS View Post

As for you, why did you bother reading it or commenting, troll be gone.

You don't agree with him, so he's a troll?
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post #12 of 37
It would be so hard to be someone who has a “usual table.” I can go to a restaurant and sit anywhere that’s available! I am thankful for this, and my heart goes out to those who can only sit at one spot

P.S. I am also UNfashionably late. Oh, well.
post #13 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post

"His" table was occupied so he waited. That's "humble?" It's more like what is expected of everyone. Thus, it would also be correct to say he wasn't a jerk about it.

How is this information deserving of any mention anywhere?

For someone of his standing in the tech industry, going to a restaurant largely patronised by tech industry people, I'd say his actions were indeed humble.

With all the anecdotes, positive and negative, coming out following his death, I don't see why we shouldn't read about his one. Perhaps it's only worth a mention for you if it paints Jobs in a negative light?
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post #14 of 37
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Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post

"His" table was occupied so he waited. That's "humble?" It's more like what is expected of everyone.

You would think but that isn't the way a lot of people are. Many see people in the service industry as nothing but slaves and treat them accordingly. I've seen some awfully bad behavior from people expecting to be treated with preference.
Quote:
Thus, it would also be correct to say he wasn't a jerk about it.

That is a good sign, it paints an entirely different picture than some here would like to paint.
Quote:
How is this information deserving of any mention anywhere?

Slow news day?
Seriously it is no different than picking up the local paper to find a bunch of filler material because nothing is happening.
post #15 of 37
doh! Ignore me. I believe I misinterpreted sennen's post.
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post #16 of 37
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Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

It would be so hard to be someone who has a usual table.

For a long time I worked nights and thus would get up literally in the afternoon. I'd go to one restaurant where good Thai food was served. Obviously all the working people had left the restaurant for the rest of their work day. So the good lady running the place would seat me in the same place - the usual table.
Quote:
I can go to a restaurant and sit anywhere thats available! I am thankful for this, and my heart goes out to those who can only sit at one spot

I don't think of it that way. Maybe you are trying to be funny. In any event the article was pretty clear Steve was willing to sit anywhere.
Quote:

P.S. I am also UNfashionably late. Oh, well.

I wish I could do that. I feel very very uncomfortable if I'm late for anything.
post #17 of 37
I'm not a big grammar police person, but I do like to understand an article when I read it. To me, saying that someone was "'humble,' fashionably late" in the title and then in the first sentence it says that he "was a humble, if not fashionably late, individual" is confusingly contradictory. Was he fashionably late or not fashionably late?
Reading the rest of the article, it discusses that he sometimes requested tables on short notice--but this is neither here nor there on the fashionably late issue...
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post #18 of 37
years ago i remembered walking into an upper eastside ny italian restaurant and even though i wanted another table, i sat down near the kitchen without a whimper.

the table i wanted was occupied by 6 men. one man, john gotti, was sitting with his back to the wall. nobody asked him to move or to hurry up or asked for his autograph.
post #19 of 37
Steve Jobs was humble, lol.
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post #20 of 37
waiting his turn... what a saint.
post #21 of 37
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Originally Posted by Habañero View Post

waiting his turn... what a saint.

Who here or in the article said he was a saint? Sure as heck if the story was about him barging in and making a scene because he couldn't immediately sit at his usual table there would be articles all over the web about him being an a-hole.
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post #22 of 37
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Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

I sort of agree with this...the biography did seem to dwell on his peculiarities!

and here was me thinking the bio was to provide insight on Steve as the visionary founder & leader of Apple.. not a patron of a restaurant.. silly me.
post #23 of 37
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Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

You don't agree with him, so he's a troll?

Apparently. I though I was pretty much stating the obvious.
post #24 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by sennen View Post

For someone of his standing in the tech industry, going to a restaurant largely patronised by tech industry people, I'd say his actions were indeed humble.

With all the anecdotes, positive and negative, coming out following his death, I don't see why we shouldn't read about his one. Perhaps it's only worth a mention for you if it paints Jobs in a negative light?

No. But I think an article that simply shows him 'not being a jerk' and acting like a normal person hardly seems worthy of mention. Unless it was so extremely rare when he wasn't a jerk. I wouldn't know.
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

You would think but that isn't the way a lot of people are. Many see people in the service industry as nothing but slaves and treat them accordingly. I've seen some awfully bad behavior from people expecting to be treated with preference.

That is a good sign, it paints an entirely different picture than some here would like to paint.

Slow news day?
Seriously it is no different than picking up the local paper to find a bunch of filler material because nothing is happening.

Thank you. A reasonable response.
post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post

No. But I think an article that simply shows him 'not being a jerk' and acting like a normal person hardly seems worthy of mention. Unless it was so extremely rare when he wasn't a jerk. I wouldn't know.

Perhaps now having read the article you might have more of an idea?
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post #27 of 37
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Originally Posted by BillyShears View Post

and here was me thinking the bio was to provide insight on Steve as the visionary founder & leader of Apple.. not a patron of a restaurant.. silly me.

Unfortunately, the bio is arguably pretty poor on a lot of stuff regarding Apple and technology in general...

Listen to this 5by5 podcast with John Siracusa: http://5by5.tv/hypercritical/42
post #28 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by krabbelen View Post

Unfortunately, the bio is arguably pretty poor on a lot of stuff regarding Apple and technology in general...

Listen to this 5by5 podcast with John Siracusa: http://5by5.tv/hypercritical/42

Siracusa's podcast is spot on and I'd recommend it over the book. I said pretty much exactly the same thing he does about the early parts of the book (Isaacson just summarises other sources) here on AI after I read it. What's interesting is Siracusa knew the sources because he's read so many Apple books and could identify them, but even without that knowledge I could tell it was all cribbed simply because the tone changes were so bizarre and because it was written from the perspectives of people I know have written extensively on Apple rather than from Jobs's perspective (i.e., the Mac section is from the POV of Hertzfeld because it's just a summary of his book, the Sculley section is so different in tone because it's just a summary of Sculley's biography with some added editorialising, etc). It really is a shoddy, lazy work. I didn't pick up on nearly as many errors as Siracusa but I got the sense throughout that Isaacson didn't understand the industry, didn't understand technology, didn't understand Apple, didn't understand Jobs and, moreover, wasn't remotely interested in understanding any of those things. I think he just saw the opportunity to write the authorised biography of a dying man and took it.
post #29 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Google's first head chef this week offered a rare glimpse into the personal life of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, recalling that frequent visits to his restaurant showed the tech guru was a humble, if not fashionably late, individual.

You mean "if fashionably late"...
post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Thanks for sharing this. Somehow Walter Isaacson failed to interview Ayers, and we're left with a biography that highlights Steve's jerk wad side. For shame. He was a complex personality.

Yeah, Isaacson really dropped the ball and failed to get inside Jobs's character, choosing to present a bunch of anecdotes he'd cribbed from employees accounts and so forth (except in the final chapter where he set out a really confused thesis about how Jobs's "controlling" character led to Apple's "closed" ecosystem). The result was a jumble of contradictory information. I think the best way to understand Jobs is in terms of the way people can try to be good but end up with a bad result because they take it too far. So somebody can be honest to the point of being rude, humble to the point of being a nuisance, etc. For example, Jobs didn't want to be the kind of guy who cared about money, so he ignored it to the point that he didn't have time for charity either. He wanted to be honest with people and honest about how he felt, but it was to the point that he bruised a lot of egos, acted in often petty ways, expressed himself too strongly (people were either "A-players" or "bozos", ideas were either "insanely great" or "complete shit"), etc. (There's an interesting paradox between being intellectually honest and being honest in the sense of expressing how you feel without reservation. The latter can lead to excesses exaggeration, failure to give credit where it is due, etc, which are themselves intellectually dishonest.) That's where those contradictions come from, I think. Jobs was too intense.
post #31 of 37
For some reason I'm hungry now...
post #32 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post

No. But I think an article that simply shows him 'not being a jerk' and acting like a normal person hardly seems worthy of mention. Unless it was so extremely rare when he wasn't a jerk. I wouldn't know.

[insult removed]
post #33 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by isaidso View Post

[insult removed]

Really, that's your response? Had I slammed you in some way? Who is the "jerk" here?
post #34 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by sennen View Post

Perhaps now having read the article you might have more of an idea?

How would I know how often he was a jerk? How do you know?
post #35 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by krabbelen View Post

Unfortunately, the bio is arguably pretty poor on a lot of stuff regarding Apple and technology in general...

Listen to this 5by5 podcast with John Siracusa: http://5by5.tv/hypercritical/42

Siracusa did have a nice list of blunders, but I thought he was off base in blaming Isaacson for not knowing his technology. All those errors should have been caught by editors and fact checkers. The publisher blew it, and let the author down with slack oversight.

Isaacson probably had no time to learn the necesssary tech chops while he was racing against time to get the book out. In such a case, the editor should send the proofs out to readers who know the field, like Siracusa, for example. That's the way it's supposed to work when you have a humanities writer covering a technical subject.

Still there were a few nontechnical gaffes, like Isaacson's editorial asides, that should also have been caught by a good editor.
post #36 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Ayers, formerly a personal chef to a family of 14, first began his stint at Google in 1999 after a successful audition for founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin. As Google expanded, his 50 meal a day job turned into serving between 10,000 and 15,000 employees per day. Ayers left the tech company in 2006 to open his restaurant where many Google employees, including Page and Brin, still eat.

Bloody hell! I thought Apple saw growth but this chef went from cooking for a family of 14 to a tech company chef cooking for 50 employees and while that company grew he ended up cooking for 10,000 to 15,000 people a day! Can understand that he is 'taking it easy now' and cooking for 250 customers a day, now that he has his own restaurant. Yeah yeah, not all on his own, 150 employees according to the Forbes article.

Nice menu, nothing really special AFAICT. Would like to visit someday.

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post #37 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by poke View Post

Yeah, Isaacson really dropped the ball and failed to get inside Jobs's character, choosing to present a bunch of anecdotes he'd cribbed from employees accounts and so forth (except in the final chapter where he set out a really confused thesis about how Jobs's "controlling" character led to Apple's "closed" ecosystem). The result was a jumble of contradictory information. I think the best way to understand Jobs is in terms of the way people can try to be good but end up with a bad result because they take it too far. So somebody can be honest to the point of being rude, humble to the point of being a nuisance, etc. For example, Jobs didn't want to be the kind of guy who cared about money, so he ignored it to the point that he didn't have time for charity either. He wanted to be honest with people and honest about how he felt, but it was to the point that he bruised a lot of egos, acted in often petty ways, expressed himself too strongly (people were either "A-players" or "bozos", ideas were either "insanely great" or "complete shit"), etc. (There's an interesting paradox between being intellectually honest and being honest in the sense of expressing how you feel without reservation. The latter can lead to excesses exaggeration, failure to give credit where it is due, etc, which are themselves intellectually dishonest.) That's where those contradictions come from, I think. Jobs was too intense.

Thanks. That's an interesting take on Jobs, and observations of Isaacson's book.

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