Unleashing the creative energy for the Michelin Star Chefs 
In Praise of Butter | “God, who wouldn’t put butter on toast?” - Laurie Moran 
A tight-knit collaboration with the world-class team of engineers, designers, and chefs. 

The context 

What does ‘Tuck Shop’ mean? 
In ‘Merrie Olde England’ a Tuck Shop is a traditional store selling predominantly sweet snacks, as well as crisps, fizzy drinks, biscuits, etc. The term comes from the colloquial usage of ‘tuck’ referring to food and ‘tucking in’ to a meal. Schools often had ‘Tuck Shops’, where the students would rush on their lunch break for a treat, as well as in youth clubs, community centers, sports facilities, and summer camps.
Tuck Shop History
The Tuck Shop began in summer of 2012 when chef Brian Mattingly (merrie, olde, and English) arrived at Dropbox as the first member of the culinary team with the mission of creating the best corporate dining program in the world. He envisioned a restaurant with a daily changing menu that never repeats a dish (he was told this would be impossible in a corporate setting), and keeps the office as excited and happy as kids in the namesake candy store. As Dropbox grew from a small startup of around 100 people, Tuck Shop’s offerings continually expanded to match the growth and ambitions of the company, becoming part of the cultural heart of Dropbox. Today, Tuck Shop features a plethora of global cuisines and services, is recognized as an industry leader in corporate dining, and provides all Dropboxers with nourishment, caffeination, and ‘Cupcake’. 

The challenge  

The Tuck Shop never repeats their dishes. They are constantly sourcing the finest ingredients for the in-house dining. Chefs who were planning meals didn’t have visibility into the cost of the meals they were creating until after they had ordered ingredients. Sometimes meals unintentionally go over their budget. Controlling the spend per meal presented opportunities to save money and time while increasing quality. Therefore, the Tuck Shop needed a tool to help chefs allocate their budget thoughtfully. 

The objectives:  

To help Chefs make decisions that can maximize quality while maintaining a budget, we had to build a tool that will allow chefs to search ingredients, build menus, estimate the cost of each meal, all within cost parameters, and produce an order for Tuck Shop’s purchasing and receiving team to process. The tool will also be able to produce tracking data and reports for higher level management oversight.

  • Building a system for food vendors to upload their pricing data
  • System for keeping pricing data up to date in our database
  • Building a UI and search engine so chefs can build their menus and see the price of each item.
  • Analytics dashboard so the tuckshop management team can gain insight into historical spending trends, which will allow them to make decisions that improve our food quality

What’s the value of the tool? 

  • Business Acumen. By having a more robust process of planning, the Chefs would be able to save a lot of costs and allocate the budget in a more effective way. Forward thinking for scaling in remote offices under budgetary restraints.
  • Operational Excellence. Designed with entrepreneurs in mind, the Chefs would continue innovating on haute-cuisine, while running efficient processes, minimizing unnecessary work about work, and driving operational cadences that get to the right outcomes 
  • Culinary Artistry. This pricing tool would serve some of the culinary values by bringing together a more efficient collaboration between the chefs and vendors.  
  • Serving the best quality seasonal, local produce and supporting local agriculture by forging direct and indirect relationships with our local growers.
  • Supporting local artisan craft businesses that use traditional, time honoured methods.
  • Serving heart healthy options cooked with olive oil and other beneficial oils while reducing the use of butter and creams.

The craft & process  

I was honored to be a designer for this project and personally work with the Chef Laurie Moran and his staff to understand the context and the chefs’ processes. 

Falling in Love with Users | Chefs Glossary   

  • Order Guide. Order consists of the list of ingredients for the chosen week. 
  • Vendors. The Tuck Shop partners with the variety of vendors, who uploads their available ingredients through an internal server  
  • Pack. size of packages
  • Unit: minimum amount of packs you can buy (unit_of_measure) 

Falling in Love with Users | Focusing on what matters 

Main Users / Views 
Kitchen Managers 
  • Create the order guide from vendors’ uploads
  • Modify the order in case if Chef disapproves 
  • Submit to Chefs for Approval 
  • See the order guide 
  • Has the ability to easily approve/disapprove 
Purchasers/Top Admin Chefs 
  • Have the ability to download the order guide 
  • Place the order in-person 

The Way We Work | Bringing Engineering Early On  

Key Decisions 
Can it be set up so the chef could start typing into a field set up with a drop down list and they could select the item from the options, it shows the price / unit, they select the no. of units, and it keeps adding up the cost as they keep adding ingredients? 
We would need some kind of way to filter searches so that chefs can locate the item they want.  Price, unit, number of units, and vendor.  In other words a way to search and select the catalog.