Today is Founding Day, an annual holiday at Four Kitchens celebrating the company’s founding date on April 17, 2006. Yes, we’re 14! While we do think we’re rather mature beyond our angsty teen years, we took an opportunity this week to reflect on some favorite memories as we think back on these past 14 years. Below are thoughts from several of our Web Chefs on some seriously fun times and inspirational moments.
Chris Martin, Engineer
I have two memories that always stick out. First, the “O o elia” song by former Web Chef David Diers. Every time I see [Four Kitchens COO] Elia’s name it pops into my head.
Saybra O’Brien, HR Manager
I’d never experienced the level of transparency and autonomy we have here in any of my previous roles. Just having visibility to see people collaborating in documents—everyone here trusts you’re doing your job. Thank you, Web Chefs, for being trusting and trustworthy.
I’ve also loved any time singing karaoke with the Web Chefs. It is always surprising in the best possible way.
Dean Oest, Design Manager
I recall the first time I went to BADCamp, in my first year at Four Kitchens. Up to that point, I hadn’t let myself be myself. Everywhere else I had worked it was like, “He’s the nerdy guy, whatever.” I had worked here for about nine months, I think. The first night of the event, I finally realized I could just be myself. That unlocked something. Out came story after story—it was like the unblocking of a dam. Since then I feel like I’m with my people. I feel accepted.
Donna Habersaat, UX Strategist
One of the first client workshops I went to with Four Kitchens was in Philadelphia. That evening we went out to dinner, and I was having a hard time deciding what to eat. There were a lot of good things on the menu. [Director of Technology] Mike Minecki decided, “Let’s just share our plates—let’s just do this tapas style.” That’s when I realized these are my people. Everyone was very excited to have that shared experience of trying things together.
Meg Ryan, Technical Project Manager
The Four Kitchens Support team Slack channel is basically all bitmojis, and it’s such a great way to break the ice. Sometimes it’s like bitmoji roulette—you hit ‘enter’ and you just don’t know what’s going to pop up. It creates some awkward moments but it always keeps things fun.
Callin Mullaney, Frontend Support Engineer
The first year I was at Four Kitchens, I went down to Texas Camp. [Senior Support Lead] Allan [Chappell] and I roomed together and we rode a pink sheep in the hotel.
Rebeca Escandón, Senior Support Engineer
For my first Texas Camp, I traveled to Austin and we played board games. It was my first time interacting in real life with my teammates and it was amazing.
I had just joined Four Kitchens and we had a retreat party at a house we rented in Austin. It felt like we just lived there for a few days. It was great to have fun with each other. Having just joined the team, I remember thinking how awesome these people are. It was like a reality TV show with people wearing green T-shirts.
Another fond memory is traveling to New York and going with some teammates to see the USS Intrepid at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. I got to see an SR-71. The entire time I was there I was using a Nexus 4, an Android phone from the early 2010s that had severe battery issues. It’s not in my nature to buy new phones. I took a $20 solar array that I got on Amazon, strapped it on my backpack, and connected it to my phone. It probably looked really weird, but hey, I stayed connected, powered by the sun!
Mike Minecki, Director of Technology
So many memories. Here are just a few. Before we went fully distributed, we had vuvuzelas in the office, and it drove our neighbors crazy. At our most recent company retreat, playing the game Monikers was so much fun. I’ve never had a better time shouting from inside a bathtub.
On a recent trip, I picked a hotel in New Haven, Connecticut that [UX Strategist] Grace [Stoeckle] said was like “an old folks home from a horror movie.” I bring that up because it was heartening to have just met Grace and find out that she is just awesome.
Grace Stoeckle, UX Strategist
My first Four Kitchens travel experience was a week-and-a-half after I started. I had to take a trip to New York. The rest of the team already had rooms booked, and I was asked if I’d room with [UX Strategist] Donna [Habersaat]. It was a little boutique hotel. For some reason, they thought building the entire bathroom out of glass was a good idea. Yes, Donna and I shared a hotel room with a glass bathroom. But I found out she was so great to share a room with, and so easygoing.
Mike Goulding, Senior Drupal Engineer
My first travel experience at Four Kitchens was a client workshop. All but one of us were new to the company and holding a workshop for the first time. The workshop went great. But what I really remember was that was the first time I’d ever experienced negative temperatures. I think it was -9º at night, walking back from dinner.
Todd Nienkerk, CEO and Co-Founder
Speaking of cold weather, one of my vivid memories was around 2008. [VP of Research and Development and co-founder] Aaron [Stanush] and I had to go on a three-city tour—New York, DC for an event, and then right back to New York for meetings. We arrived in New York just as a blizzard was coming in. It was one of the last flights in town. We took the subway to Midtown and it took forever. Snow was piling up. We got to the hotel and looked out the window. At that point there was maybe 3 or 4 inches of snow. We went down to Times Square and nobody was there—there wasn’t a single car or person. We were the only two people in Times Square and it was dead silent. Of course, by the next morning, it was a full 180, and back to the norm with horns honking, gridlock traffic, and people shouting.