When I was acting professionally in the 90s, the refrain was:
“What do you do?”
“I’m an actor.”
“Oh, really. Which restaurant?”
True to the cliche, I did work in a restaurant in between acting gigs. In fact, I co-owned it. My husband, then boyfriend, was the chef. I ran the operations. Our place made Best of Atlanta just before the 1996 Olympics. It was a hole-in-the-wall with amazing food. My husband can cook! I don’t miss the work at all. If my husband ever wants a second restaurant, I wish him and his second wife the best of luck. I’ve never worked so hard as I did at that time–physically and mentally. I don’t want to de-bone 200 chickens at 2am ever again. I don’t want to lie down on the cold, tile bathroom floor to rest my sore back ever again. I don’t want to repeat qualifying for the earned income tax credit.
What I do miss, and did to a grave degree during the pandemic, is companionship in the truest sense of the word, “bread together.” Food–the act of sharing a meal–is a powerful lubricant, an adhesive, scaffolding for building relationships. With communities safely reopening, we recently implemented advice from a DE&I leader and hosted dinner with people from different backgrounds.
Our recent dinner was with a Cameroonian colleague who’s lived around the world and speaks three languages. She brought Cameroonian cuisine, and we made some sides and dessert. Her husband is a master bladesmith. We talked knives, food, race relations, food, education, food, travel, food, economic trends, food.
“You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.” –Anthony Bourdain
DE&I is not the responsibility of a single leader or a single Core Value on a poster. It’s the responsibility of everyone, at home and at work. Share dinner with someone “different” this summer. I promise you’ll want to go back for seconds.