Behind the Scenes with Facebook HQ’s Plant-Based Chef, Anthony Moraes
Facebook has always been a pioneer in the world of technology, but thanks to Anthony Moraes, Head Wellness Chef at Facebook’s headquarters in New York City, the company is now a shining example of how plant-based eating can be integrated into corporate dining services.
Meatless Monday had the opportunity to speak with Chef Moraes about Facebook’s fully plant-based café, Ceci et Cela, and how people simply can’t stop talking, tweeting, and Instagramming about the innovative meatless meals he and his team are cooking up.
What was the motivation behind having an entirely plant-based cafe in Facebook’s HQ? Do other cafes at Facebook also serve vegetarian options?
The motivation for having an entirely plant-based café came from our desire to provide interesting and innovative plant-based concepts that complement our “mainstream” cafes. We always have our finger on the pulse of what is happening in the world of food and drink, and as more people switch to alternative diets, we wanted to accommodate those preferences by creating a place that offers food that is healthy, cutting edge, and suitable for all eating lifestyles. Our daily menus incorporate vegan, vegetarian, Meatless Monday, keto, paleo, juicing, and healthy-living options.
How have employees reacted to Ceci et Cela?
Ceci et Cela opened up to rave reviews from our employees, and it continues to receive amazing feedback after nearly two years in operation.
How do you entice employees to choose a plant-base option over a meat-centric dish?
We post some mouthwatering pictures of the food on our internal Facebook page, and these photos tend to draw in both plant-based diners and meat eaters, but most of the time it’s word-of-mouth that gets the line started.
What’s the most popular dish at Ceci et Cela?
It’s hard to say, since our menu changes weekly and we try to never repeat a dish. But I guess if we had to pick, there is one salad that I created for our opening menu that is so immensely popular that someone created a Fan Page for it; it’s called “All Hail The Kale.” Lol… It has many followers. So funny…
Plant-based has become more popular, what plant-based cuisine trends or insights can you share from your success with Ceci’s? Have you seen more traffic on Mondays?
Running a plant-based café allows us to be creative, but it also enables us to see which types of plant-based foods outshine the others. Currently, there’s a trend towards trying different varieties of nut milks. We make all of our own nut milks in-house, and I’ve noticed a growing interest in other plant-based milks beyond the common almond and soy. Oat milk has grown in popularity, but we also experiment with walnuts, macadamia nuts, various dried legumes, and seeds.
I also see that more people are concerned with their gut health. We offer kombucha on tap as well as house-made probiotic foods and drinks.
As for a traffic boost on Mondays, we do have a healthy Monday service due to our steady flow of plant-based eaters and our committed Meatless Monday diners. Ironically, we see an even bigger spike on Tuesdays, as all of our Monday guests go back and tell their friends and co-workers about their incredible meal at Ceci et Cela.
A third trend that started off as more of a feeling is the correlation between clean nutrition and beauty (I believe they’ve coined a word for it now, “Nutraceuticals”). So, I put together a “Beauty Bar” within our café that is set up like a makeup station complete with a lighted mirror, compact cases, perfume bottles, blush brushes, etc. But instead of makeup, I filled all of these cases and jars with superfood additives like, acai powder, maca, chlorella, camu-camu, pine oil, and matcha so that guests can come up to the bar and add an extra boost of super foods to their food or drink. At the Beauty Bar, I’ve also included a nicely-framed legend explaining what additives are good for your hair, your nails, your skin, eyes, etc… It has become immensely popular and is a very “Instagram-able” station.
Have employees started eating more plant-based meals as a result of trying new foods at Ceci’s? Any stories you can share?
There are so many stories of employees coming to us and thanking us for re-introducing them to the delicious potential of vegetables. Our team does such an incredible job at making all of our offerings attractive and appealing to everyone, not just the vegans and vegetarians. I am grateful for the many stories and accolades we receive each week. One employee came to me and said that he has strictly only eaten at Ceci et Cela for the past 6 months and lost 30 pounds. A few employees have brought in their personal trainers and nutritionists to see everything we do. Another employee said that Ceci et Cela was an official part of her wedding plan this summer!