The first time I saw the President’s Choice #EatTogether campaign, I was immediately stopped in my tracks. (And that song was embedded into my brain forever.) There’s a lot to be said for sharing a meal with those you love but in my family, we do a whole heck of a lot more than just gather around a table to dig into our food.
The timing of a recent taping event with the President’s Choice team, Tracy Moore from City Line, and PC Executive Chef Tom Fillipou last weekend in Wolfville, NS, was absolutely perfect: I was a week out from a family get together where we’d be – you guessed it – eating together. I left the event full of good vibes, great food, and inspiration.
I was especially glad to grab a few moments to chat with Chef Tom, who left me with a piece of advice I kept near to my chest this weekend. When I asked him to share his best tip for hosting a dinner party, he turned on a lightbulb in my little head.
Be a part of your party! It’s great to be ambitious but don’t overdo it. Make food that you’ll be able to put out quickly and efficiently so you can enjoy your time with your loved ones.
With that in mind, I decided I could forgo all of the extras I had in mind – like making hot and cold dips, or time-consuming and delicate meringues, or even floral centrepieces – and made it my mission to keep it simple so I could enjoy the time I had with my family.
Our party started long before the food was put out.
We joined my Dad on his fishing boat early in the morning to watch as our meal was unloaded from his lobster traps. (And I do mean we watched; we stood back and let the professionals do their work!) Each lobster was examined and measured to ensure it was legal, before being banded and placed in a wooden box.
Upon returning home from the wharf, Marc set to work building the new barbeque my parents had purchased while I (like the obsessed runner I am) jogged away to get a few miles in before everyone arrived. After doing a few rounds with the vacuum cleaner and getting dressed, M and I bundled up and went outside in the rain to assemble a tent on the deck to keep us all dry.
As family members began to arrive, our kitchen filled up with food and laughter and – in true East Coast spirit – the kitchen didn’t empty until the party was over. Elbow to elbow, we took turns mixing salads and cutting desserts or passing plates to the next in line.
Like Chef Tom, I’m drawn to my table to spend time with my friends and family where we bond over the most basic thing: the need to eat.
With coolers filled with beer, a fridge full of desserts, and more steak and lobster than you could shake a stick at, we all found a job to get the food and drink served up. Before you could say “Let’s Eat”, we’d each found a spot to stand or sit with a precariously full plate and dig in.
Gathering around the table – or in this case, tables, chairs, desks, countertops, and deck railings – is about more than food. It’s about laughter, love, creating memories, and being together. The eating is just the cherry on top.
(And the whipped cream is a handsome man in a BBQ apron.)