Hospitality and the generosity of cooking

Danny Meyer said it best: “Within moments of being born, most babies find themselves receiving the first four gifts of life: eye contact, a smile, a hug, and some food. That first time may be the purest hospitality transaction we’ll ever have, and it’s not much of a surprise that we’ll crave those gifts for the rest of our lives.

For me, it all starts here. To cook a meal for others is to give a gift. When I cook I’m sharing my passion with my guests and the meal experience matters just as much as the food. I want my guests to feel at ease, to have a good time, to feel happiness in the moment. In my day job as a company director and advisor I always remind people that business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. Cooking and entertaining is the same. What’s always most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting experiences, and celebrating joy and friendships.

To invite a person to dine with us is to take charge of his happiness for as long as he is under our roof.
— Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Food itself evokes memories and affords new experiences. This can make a meal an invitation to revisit familiar places or discover new ones. It's ephemeral and sharing our reactions to aromas, textures and tastes often communicates a memory imbued with as much emotion as a sense of flavour. If I can activate all the senses with food and drink, the company and ambiance, and send my guests home with a shared memorable experience then I am also happy.

Cooking requires delicacy and tender care, hard work, imagination and rigorous execution. Devoting energy to a dish that's enjoyed and appreciated creates in me a feeling of contentment rather than gratification. It's a warm feeling. 

To cook for others is a generous and fulfilling pursuit—a sign of love. 

Simon BakerComment