Avocado and quinoa with roasted corn and jicama succotash. Roasted free range chicken with herb aioli and pickled red onions on toasted ciabatta with a side of chipotle BBQ sauce. Local kale, crispy wheatberries, and grape tomatoes with a lemon parmesan vinaigrette. Vegan Banh Mi with marinated tofu, housemade sweet chili sauce, pickled daikon & carrots, cucumbers, jalapenos, and cilantro.

We know. It’s lunchtime, you’re starving, and if you’re lucky there’s a Mendocino Farms nearby where one of these menu items is easily within reach. As soon as you enter one of Mendocino’s Southern California locations, however, you’ll immediately notice that you’re about to get more than just a sandwich. You’ve walked into a company that values people with as much attention as they put into their pickle and dill potato salad. Which you should definitely do yourself a favor and try.

We had the chance to sit down — over lunch, of course — with Mendocino Farms co-founder Ellen Chen. Below she sheds new light on the term “customer service”, as well as offers some encouraging insight as to what women can uniquely bring to the hospitality industry. Ready to break some bread with us?