By Kristen Manieri

Food & Togetherness

This week my guest was Kathleen Blake, an award-winning chef, two-time James Beard award nominee, and co-owner of The Rusty Spoon in downtown Orlando, FL. 

I’ve known Kathleen for more than a decade and while our skills related to food differ vastly, we completely align on how meals can be the richest and most important social connectors in our life. 

Put simply: togetherness happens around food. 

Whether you’re looking at the three meals you eat every day or the big ritual meals, like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, there’s no question that part of sharing our life with our friends and family is that we share food together… a lot. 

Built into the making and consuming of our meals are all sort of rich opportunities to feel connected, but only if we take advantage of those opportunities and seize those moments. 

As someone who has built her entire life around food, Kathleen has a lot to say about food and togetherness.

This interview was such a great reminder for me to mine for moments of togetherness around meal time. After our interview I started to notice how just simply tuning in more, being more intentional around conversation, helped me feel more connected to everyone at dinner time. It’s helped me to break out of my habit of using meal time as merely a time to fuel my body; it’s a time to fuel my relationships, too.


1. Meals are a way we can return to each other. We can use them as touchstones for our families and friendships. 

2. In many ways, we’ve lost our grip on the sanctity of family meal time, allowing other obligations to prioritize above them. Sometimes we need to do an audit of how we spend our time and be honest about whether it’s really creating the life and the relationships that we want. 

3. Go old school. There’s nothing wrong with holding boundaries around meal times and technology at the table. I believe people in our lives will ultimately come to respect our commitment to meal time and deeper connections. 

4. See if you can revive or begin the ritual of Sunday Supper. It doesn’t have to be Sunday, but the spirit of a weekly meal together that’s never negotiable has the capacity to create lasting bonds and memories that can stay with you for a lifetime. 

5. Food connects us to family and friends but it also has the ability to connect us with our community. Look for opportunities at local farm or farmer’s markets to create relationships with the people who grow your food. 

6. If cooking is drudgery for you, as it is for me, see how you can make it more fine by creating togetherness around it. 


A big thanks to Kathleen Blake for being my guest this week. If ever you’re in Orlando, be sure to check out The Rusty Spoon. It’s truly one of Orlando’s best restaurants. 

Until next time, 

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