The joy of good food and conversation

The joy of good food and conversation

Last week’s piece entitled “Breaking Bread” has provoked many comments on the importance of making time for many to just sit down, enjoy a meal and socially interact. It is also provoked a realisation that hospitality sits at the centre of everyday life – far more than it has ever done before. People now eat out on average twice a week. Even breakfast has become an occasion for a meal out. Food has become increasingly important in our lives and there is general awareness of what good food looks like.

Food Tours5One of the concerns raised was that the term “Breaking Bread” sounds very formal when life today and the consumer’s desire is to be far more informal. Hospitality sits at the centre of daily life but it is the more informal service lines that are dominant and growing. People want great service but the more formal you make it can repel people.

soho toursWhat raised positive comment was an understanding that it is important that many – especially the young – just spend time eating as a family, group or with friends. It is still one of the most powerful social conventions and tools but the art of conversation appears to have declined. It is strange that as people eat out more, the view is that many struggle with the art of conversation and traditional social skills yet these are seen as crucial to success in life. We see adverts on life skills; maybe this is where those coaching classes should start? Maybe they should start at school with a real discipline on time spent just talking with no phones or distractions – same in the workplace.

Does hospitality have a role to play in raising this awareness?

Perhaps but certainly not by preaching. It could be by promoting the joy and fun and great food and conversation. Some ideas put forward since last week include:

  • Could companies enforce 15 minutes of time within teams just to chat together over a coffee or meal?
  • Food engages people very effectively. Could cookery sessions be hosted in schools and companies to engage?
  • Could we promote great food coupled with good life skills/art of good conversation?
  • Could hospitality be seen as positive by promoting just the fun of enjoying hospitality outlets!
  • There is a broader social piece in ensuring good education on food.
  • Hospitality should be delighted with its increased role in daily life. Can it play a greater role back to the community too?

All food for thought. But what are your thoughts? Could hospitality help promote the joy of social interaction and friendship? Or is this someone’s else’s role to fulfill?

To get involved with the Breaking Bread campaign please contact Arlene McCaffrey

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