How to Create a Welcome for People

Eating at a Meeting Podcast Episode 38

Doreen Cumberford Eating at a Meeting podcastCreating Welcome

Doreen Cumberford is a coach, speaker and author who helps expats and global nomads to grow their life/work balance in order to fulfill their assignments overseas with more joy! An expat veteran of over four decades Doreen continues to eat and meet people as she continues to travel the globe. She is the author of Life in the Camel Lane: Embrace the Adventure, Arriving Well, Home Again, Home Again Jiggety Jig and a new upcoming work When the Music Stops!

What do safe, inclusive & sustainable food and beverage experiences look like to you?

One word: WELCOME. Food is not only sustenance – it is symbolic of welcome, connection and energy! Eating is not only a full-body type of experience, it can be a grand adventure. Food is rarely just food. It is a conduit to well-being, or a pipeline to an higher energetic frequency. I believe that what we eat truly affects how we think and therefore our thoughts, feelings and behavior stem from not only the quality of food but also the through the ease and receptivity our bodies enjoy. Food is culture, culture is food….What are we creating by eating? how mindful are we willing to be around food? how we eat shows how we feel about others….are we inclusive? are we willing to cross-cultures?

Do you have an example of a situation that negatively effected you and/or other individuals or groups’ food and beverage experience?

From 1982 to 1984 I owned a Diet Center Franchise. I coached people into losing 60 to 100 pounds of weight. I don’t have specific story, I have many short stories. It was challenging supporting people through a very rigid program while helping them balance their business and personal lives.

Many hotel and convention events in the US have really turned me off! For 15 years living in the Middle East I watched with fascination the way Middle Easterners and Asian people celebrated their lives through food….we don’t seem to have that culture here. Examples of eating Khapsa in Saudi Arabia, taking tea in Turkey, the sense of welcome and willingness to spend time with others. Much drinking of tea is involved when purchasing rugs for example. Shopkeepers would go fetch us drinks when we arrived in their stores – before we ever did introductions or conducted business.

The set up of tables, and the general lack of welcome and the impersonalization of food! Specifically, the lack of attention to detail, the lack of choice…..I have been living gluten free for ten years and for long periods. Most of my stories focus on the very positive, upbeat experiences of eating across the globe. That invisible sense of welcome needs to be created before I can even start to eat. When that is present I feel more nurtured, more nutritioned (if that is a word) and enjoy a deep sense of well-being.

Memories of rescuing ourselves in Japan from wet, rainy and cold days in Kyoto into steaming Noodle Houses, those are the kind of food experiences I remember and loved…..infused with well-being and culture.

What do you wish people knew about what you do?

That coaching works long beyond the time of the programs, results are long-term – like food life has to be planned and digested well! Life-coaching is like magic, where we put our focus tends to be where we get results. I love the results my clients get when they mindfully approach travel and change with a focus on Transformation. Our actual DNA can become dynamically different.

What is a best practice you use/or have seen to create safe and inclusive F&B experiences?

I loved the huge platters set on the tables in the Middle East! Three thoughts: 1). make the whole person welcome. 2) deliver lively, fun, beautiful food. 3) let the food give people something to talk about,. Sharing food is intimate and personal.

What is your favorite food and your favorite drink?

For today…….. because it’s always changing, my daughter’s lentil and kale salad; Hibiscus & Ginger Kombucha!! a wonderful winter combination that gives me life!


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