It is Wednesday, San Diego winter feels like it is here already as soon as the sun sets and throughout the first hours of the morning. I am in week-4 of yet another class in my Master's Degree of Psychology program. As every workday, I gotta get done with setting up for the machine to continue running before I dive into the books.
Today we open back at De Nada and while we only have one reservation we had a good last weekend so we keep coming back, week after week. It is the weeks where all days we are open are slow and we wonder, will this be the drop that spills over the top? Quite a rollercoaster we live in. It has more thrills than those at Six Flags I'll tell ya. Do you know how hard it is to switch from casual writing mode to formal-scholastic writing mode? It is. My head, yes my head, feels dense whenever I am writing a paper for school, so this blog is my steam release, just like a pressure cooker. Now onto part two of the Ten Talk, I presented at EMU (Virtually). IF you have not read the first part I encourage you to do so, then come back here and read the rest.
Even though it was a rainy and weirdly cooler than usual May night, food was the first topic of conversation.
I will never forget the connection I felt with Joanna that day. As I tasted the tortellini primavera pasta she prepared, I thought to myself: She can cook! This is friggin delicious! I must admit I was and I guess I still am a bit picky when it comes to well-prepared and well-seasoned food.
As we all moved forward with our courses, I realized that I was naturally engaging in conversations with Joanna ́s dad. No signs of awkwardness from my side or disinterest from his side. We were all gathered around the table sharing a meal, exchanging our points of view about different topics, and most importantly, connecting and getting to know each other.
Wonder why I am telling you this story? Because I think this story perfectly reflects the power of food and the idea that I have embraced at my restaurant since day one. Food brings us together. These types of stories are what have fueled my passion for what I do at my restaurant. This passion for offering a memorable experience to our guests and helping to strengthen the human bond is what kept us going even during the pandemic.
Food has the power to unite people from different backgrounds, from different cultures, from different ideologies, from different religions. Food along with the people we share it has the power to mark our memories.
Food is a bond-maker.
However, I have a sense that stories like this are kind of getting lost in a certain way these days.
Back in the year 2000, YouTube and Facebook were just launching. Smartphones did not exist. That is why my story worked. Because when we were at the table, we were sitting there engaging with each other.
We were not on Instagram. We were not on TikTok. We were not chatting with our friends online.
We were there. In present time and space. Listening to each other and being open to other ́s opinions, even cracking the occasional laugh.
Today, many who still share dinner with their friends and family, find it hard to leave their phone aside for the entire meal. Even at restaurants, at my restaurant. I see it once in a while where couples sit down, barely make eye contact with each other, or when I attend to them taking their order, and throughout dinner, they are looking at their phones more than ½ of the time.
We need to change this. We need to recover quality time with our loved ones and sometimes nowadays the table where we sit to eat is probably the one place where we have the chance to nurture our relationships, and we can use the power of food to do so.
First, in the kitchen. Though cooking together can be super fun, most households tend to have just one person in charge of the kitchen. To change this, cooking can be a task to be tackled as a group, as a family activity. And if your kids or the rest of your family still want their tech devices around, let ́s make sure the power of the smartphone is complementary to the power of food. Instead of navigating through Instagram to see random pictures, we can promote and encourage others to find a cool App or Social Media Profile to extract some recipes and cooking techniques, or to play music that can complement the occasion. By doing so, learning new stuff will become an all around memorable experience and we will start building back that sense of union and collective fun.
Here is the major challenge I want to leave you with: share more meals with your loved ones. Real meals with real connections. Real meals with real emotions. Real meals with FULL ATTENTION to each other.
The goal is to share at least one meal a day in the company of family, loved ones, or friends. But of course, as any habit we intend to change, the idea is to do it progressively. During the first few months, our goal should be to share one meal a day together. After that, we can increase the number, month by month.
This plan will surely work because it is progressive. If we start with excessively optimistic goals, they will be hard to meet. On the contrary, if we accomplish small and progressive goals, success is pretty guaranteed.
Build memories with your loved ones. Be there for them. Open your heart and let them transform you. Grow together. As a family and as a community.
That is the power of food.
Trust me, you will not regret this. The moments you will remember are those when you are present, and I believe being present while eating together around the table is a good place to start.
We are on a mission to bring you the carefully curated and unmatched flavors of Chef Oz’s international cooking style in a memorable dine, drink, shop experience. We strive to share flawlessly executed, eclectic recipes, both familiar and unexpected, with our loyal community of patrons.
Happy hour at De Nada Kitchen & Market is from Wednesday to Saturday from 4 pm to 5 pm. Happy hour offerings are $5 tapas, $7 wine by the glass.
We're located in the eclectic University Heights neighborhood.
About the author:
I chef Oz write these blogs. I am a home cook gone pro when my wife Jo and I decided to open Cueva Bar, a fusion tapas bar and restaurant in San Diego California. I am passionate about offering a space where people gather for a good time, and to enjoy mindfully prepared tapas, made with love and passion by our culinary team. I'm about the all-inclusive peace, love, mutual respect, unity, kindness, and compassion under the sun with liberty and justice for all.
Let food bring us together!