A New Cookbook Author Scores a Google Talk

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Food writer and cookbook author Jody Eddy, before her talk at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

It’s not every day that a new cookbook author joins the ranks of dignitaries such as Al Gore and Tina Fey. But Jody Eddy did, by speaking at Google headquarters.

The co-author of Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants, Jody’s oddessey to the Googleplex began when publicist friend Carrie Bachman made a request.

Cliff Redeker, who books speakers for the Google talks, wanted travel information about Iceland for a future trip. Eddy is working on a cookbook with an Icelandic chef, Gunnar Karl Gislason, so she and Redecker began a conversation. Eventually, he invited Jody to speak about her new cookbook.

The Google speaker series began in 2005 and features hundreds of authors, musicians, chefs, economists and politicians. Redeker now arranges 250 to 300 talks per year, all free to employees, with the help of volunteer Google employees. The talks go up on YouTube, which gives authors another chance to promote their book online, and Google employees get another chance to watch. Here is Eddy’s YouTube video.

Another author benefit of Google talks is book sales. Google purchases the author’s books from a nearby independent bookstore in Mountain View, CA, and sells them to its employees at a steep discount. Jody’s $35 hardcover book cost $10 for employees; paperback books sell at Google for $5.

I got to join Jody as part of her Google posse. First, the Google campus is enormous. It was a miracle that we found each other at all! There are four main buildings and more than 30 cafes overall, although not all based in the Silicon Valley. Charlie Ayers, the first Google chef, wrote a cookbook and now has a restaurant in nearby Palo Alto.

Just one of several cafes on the Google campus. This one specializes in Asian food.

Just imagine restaurant quality food, for free, every day, at your workplace. Whole cafes are dedicated to Asian and Indian food and others to vegetarian and vegan food. That may not be your thing, but Google has a pronounced emphasis on eating healthfully to keep their employees in shape. (To see more photos, see this post by Adam Roberts of the Amateur Gourmet, who also did a talk there.)

Jody and I ate lunch in one of the cafes and toured a few others with one of the many volunteers who help Redecker host speakers. Then Jody gave a talk and slide show about what great restaurants of the world feed their employees.

This is what passes for a run-of-the-mill stall toilet at Google, with a heated seat.

En route from lunch to the auditorium, we saw a trailer for free haircuts (catering mostly to guys) and colorful bikes that anyone can use to zip from one building to another. And I probably shouldn’t be showing you this, but I was amazed by the stall toilets with heated seats in the women’s restroom. Those Googlers (as Redecker called them) sure have it good.

You’ve probably wondering how you can give an author talk at Google? I asked Redecker this very question, on your behalf. First he said it was an interesting question. Apparently Google had an online submission form, but so many people applied that it was removed. Now he suggests you do the following:

“Published authors are our largest genre. If you’re interested in speaking at Google, your best bet is to reach out to your publicist. We maintain strong relationships with nearly all the major publishing houses, and many indies. It’s the most direct way to make our volunteers aware of your work. More than likely, we’ve already worked with someone there on an event. Of course, you can also @-mention us on Twitter (@googletalks). “


(Disclosure: One of the links in this post goes to an affiliate, for which I may be compensated if you make a purchase.)


  1. says

    Wow Google sounds so amazing, that’s so cool you got to see it for yourself. I’d work there over my current job any day. If only more employers took a page out of Google’s book and made working life more healthy and stimulating for its staff. Happy staff are productive and loyal staff.

  2. says

    Thanks for inviting US into a world few of us will have the opportunity to visit. Isn’t it great the way GOOGLE makes the lives of their employees so rich? And it’s great to know that the promo continues for authors and artists as their talks go up on u-tube. Fantastic in every way!

    • diannejacob says

      My pleasure. Well, Google wants a lot back. If you can take a free lunch back to your desk, you can work longer. Apparently some cafes are open for dinner and one on weekends too.

  3. says

    What an amazing corporate environment Google provides! They nourish the soul by making books more accessible to their employers. Bravo, Google! Congrats to Jody, as well. Thanks for sharing this great information, Dianne!

    • diannejacob says

      Sure, Betty. It’s pretty impressive. But I know someone who works at Google. When I asked him about these talks, he said he’s never been.

  4. says

    Wow, that’s a pretty amazing opportunity. I never knew about Google Talks. Thanks Dianne, as always, for bringing me up to speed on such things.

    Btw, the toilet photo is hilarious. If only we’d thought to put heated seats in our home. :)

    • diannejacob says

      You are most welcome, Maureen. Not only is the toilet heated, but it is also a combo bidet. One of those sophisticated Japanese inventions.

  5. Susan Cooper says

    This is way cool. I was aware of Google talks but this is not something I had never thought about. What an amazing opportunity for her. :)

  6. says

    I was reading along with interest, but when I got to the part about the heated toilet seat I was stopped in my tracks so to speak. Um, hello, that just seems off-putting to me; I mean, wouldn’t these feel uncomfortably recently-vacated? Have to say, this is not a comment I ever imagined leaving on your blog! On the other hand, it would be wonderful to be invited to speak at Google; I just need to write a book first.

    • diannejacob says

      Well, maybe it’s not your thing. For me, I think these toilets cost abut $600+, so I was amazed that Google puts them in stalls.

      I hope you get started on that book!

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