Jenna Hall on how food continues to forge connections, even more so during social distancing

Jenna Hall, during a Master Chef audition

Meet Jenna. Recruiting Coordinator by day, master chef during quarantine — she’s the embodiment of how people’s passions come to life both inside and outside the office. Jenna shows us how bringing your special flair to your job, no matter what that might be, can create a unique way to connect with coworkers.

Jenna’s flair is in the kitchen. Growing up in a family that owned and operated restaurants in Northern and Southern California, Jenna’s culinary creativity was cultivated from a young age. From trying her first oyster at age 3 to successfully making eggs Benedict for the whole family at age 8 on her own to auditioning for Master Chef multiple times, she now shares her lifelong passion with her colleagues at Dropbox.

Left: Outside Citizens Pizza on Broad St in Nevada City, CA my parents restaurant after working the annual Fathers Day Bike race,. 4 generations working to sell Pizza by the slice beer, soda and bottled water. I was about 10 in this picture, my job was running pizzas and/or digging out the drinks out of 55 gallon trash cans filled with ice. My parents sold the restaurant when I was around 14 years old.; Middle: Our pizza parlor was famous for its Mexican Pizza. I got the recipe from my mom (by memory, no exact measurements) and make it regularly; Right: While in quarantine I made a dessert that we served at our restaurant called Delight. Its a 5 layer dessert that used cool-whip and pudding mix. I couldn’t find either so I made my own homemade butterscotch pudding and whipped cream. It turned out so good and brought back all the memories.
Left: The summer after I graduated High School I was a camp cook for an Adventure Camp. 5 Weeks out of the summer we took the kids to the Tahoe National Forest and I would cook 3 meals a day for 100+ campers and staff off the back of a flatbed truck (seen behind me here). We had to pack in and out EVERYTHING we would need.; Middle: Learning to make tortillas in Mexico when I was 17; Right: Enjoying the fruits of our labor
Left: A love of food and other cultures has always been shared by me and my family. Making Injera for an Ethiopian Feast with my Aunt in Canada; Right: I love to entertain so for the Housewarming Party I threw after I bought my first house included a 5ft Charcuterie Board. I built the actual board myself, stained it with coffee and sealed with a food safe butcher block sealer. Then put the board together with my favorite meats, cheeses, nuts, dried fruits, jams/jellies and a variety of crackers.

“I was always very interested in food and how it was made and why it was done the way it was. I asked a lot of ‘why’ questions, I was one of those kids,” Jenna notes. “I love to cook for people, I love to make other people happy.”

While food is a huge driver of any culture, we take it up a few notches with the Tuck Shops (what we call our cafes) at our office locations. In Austin, Jenna not only enjoys hearing about what’s being made, she chats and collaborates with the Tuck Shop chefs and will even bring in her own creations for them to try.

Left: Master Chef Audition Dish inspired by Tuck Shop. Beet cured salmon in homemade gougères; Right: First team event as a Dropboxer — Cooking Class

“One of the things I miss the most about being in the office is the Tuck Shop, and not just because ‘oh they feed us,’ it’s the event around sharing meals with people I work with and the community that’s created at the table,” Jenna says.

Left: Dressed as Julia Child for Halloween and Won the Costume contest; Right: ATX Chai Cart — a Thursday afternoon tradition. Spreading love and joy throughout the office with food and Drink. (we push the cart through every floor — meeting and interacting with fellow Dropboxers)

While sharing looks a little different these days, Jenna won’t let that stop how she contributes to our culture. She’s taken to the #foodathome channel on Slack to connect with fellow food aficionados.

“Food is better shared with people, and we’re isolating,” Jenna says. “I can’t share a meal with someone, so I am going to share food at home…food is how I like to connect.”

Not only is Jenna connecting with the food family she’s built in the Austin office, #foodathome offers the chance to connect on common ground with anyone within Dropbox, even people she may have never crossed paths with.

The best part about the channel is that it’s more than just picture-perfect posts. Home chefs share their failures, trials, and triumphs and help each other along the way. Jenna shared about a recent troubleshooting session when someone recreated a recipe she posted (the biggest compliment you can give!) and it didn’t quite turn out. The community is about the common language of food.

Now that Dropbox is collectively working from home, we know that keeping our culture strong is important, not just for our company, but for our wellbeing. That’s why we’re finding creative ways to connect digitally through the passions that make us all unique.

Left: The first time auditioning for Master Chef; Middle: The time I met Gordon Ramsay and we talked about my food. I made Tamales with homemade Chorizo; Right: My Good Friend Gina I met auditioning for Master Chef. We were covering a BBQ competition in Long Beach for a local publication.
Left: Using the Sous Vide that the Tuck Shop gave as Christmas gifts to cook Christmas Dinner. Elk Steaks from my Dads Hunting Trip.; Middle: Helped to organize a Recruiting Team Friendsgiving 2018; Right: Sushi Making at Dropbox

Quarantine Creations:

Left: Making my Oma (German grandmother) proud. Snitzel and her spetzel recipe.; Middle: 1st Pavlova for Easter Dessert; Right: Quarantine Trends — Dalgona (Whipped Coffee)
Left: Mexican Crab Tostadas; Middle: Oven Ribs — I may never make them on the grill ever again!; Right: Baked Pasta Alla Norma by Chrissy Teigen
Left: Hot Cross Buns for Easter Morning; Middle: Half Baked Harvest has been a food blogger I have been following and I have made quite a few of her recipes during quarantine. Caramelized shallot beef ramen noodles; Right: I love to recreate favorite recipes, this is Tahdig — Crispy Persian Rice — Half Baked Harvest Recipe

You can learn more about how we’re keeping Dropbox culture strong while we’re making working from home work for us, here.

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