Chris Hill Blog: How food can help us all get along

The Staff Canteen

Chef and restaurateur, Chris Hill discusses how food can bring us all together despite our varied backgrounds.

He had cancer. Cancer sucks. We would soon learn that this would be his last night. In the hospice, he was surrounded by those that loved him. Fortunately, a certain sense of peace, joy and gratitude had taken hold in the overcrowded, sterile room, as we spoke what, we didn’t know at the time would be our final goodbyes.

How food quoteIn that room, where my fiance’s uncle passed away last month, I was the only one there without a strand of Filipino blood running through my veins. It even seemed as though the nurses taking such good care of him and the fragile family shared distant bloodlines with them as well. There were youngsters racing toy cars along the slick and chilled hospital floor, not completely aware of what was going on. There were those who could have been my grandparents squeezing his hand with encouragement, sharing their deep love, affection and appreciation for this man who’s time on earth was coming to a close.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve become enamoured with learning about their culture, their dishes and the things that make Filipinos proud of who they are and where they came from. With every bit I learn, I grow increasingly jealous, wishing I’d been spoiled with the various rice dishes of that beautiful island nation throughout the course of my childhood. Strangely though, it’s only through having a different experience and understanding the world in a different way, that I’m able to create this sort of context for my interaction with them and the food that they’ve enticed me to fall in love with.

His death marked the end of a life, but over the next week I got to enjoy so many wonderful Filipino meals with so many wonderful people that were close to him — that’s why we were all together — it was because of him. The dinner table for a week straight was a celebration of his life, the meals, as well as the stories that reminded them of him, and at the heart of it all, it was the important things in this world that were what brought us all together — family, love, togetherness.

How food can bring us together

I’m sure, as it relates to the big picture we all want the same things in life. If that’s the case, why can’t we just stop for a few minutes to really think about those that are different from us and how those differences don’t make us enemies. They don’t make us right, wrong, better or worse. These differences can actually bring us together — that I learned over the last month, celebrating the life of a man and a culture of which I knew little about just a few years ago. I have a funny feeling that if we all sat down at an oversized table, broke some bread, cracked open some wine and shared stories of who we really are, where we come from and what we hold most dear, we’d start to realise that what makes us raw and human and real is awfully similar to what makes that person sitting across the table from us feel those same things, even if they look a little bit different.

Food, without fail, if you let it, can be the ultimate gathering force, the thread binding us all together. Food is the starting point of what we have in common — which is a hell of a lot more than the differences so many are so quick to point out. Like with most things in life, it just depends on where you choose to put your focus.

Chris Hill
Chris Hill

Chef Chris Hill left a job in the business world to follow his heart and passion into the world of cooking and the kitchen. Chris opened his first restaurant at 28 and grew into the role of executive chef.

Having taken his experiences in the corporate world, as well as those in the kitchen, Chris has built a large social media following centred around TV appearances all over the Southeast U.S., his writing, TEDx talks, and his mission of helping industry workers to lead fulfilling successful careers.

Chris' first book comes out in the Summer of 2016 and is a dive into what makes for a successful career in the restaurant world, and includes exclusive interviews with some of the world's leading and most respected chefs.

You can follow Chris on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and read more of his work here.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd October 2017

Chris Hill Blog: How food can help us all get along