Welcome today’s guest blogger, founder of Heartfelt Catering, Chef Cecilia Hamilton! Heartfelt Catering seemed like the perfect partner for Elbows on the Table on May 12. We hope you can join us for a conversation about philanthropy and community and, of course, a delicious dinner!
We’re honored to partner with Catalyst Ranch for this year’s On the Table conversation: how do we strengthen our community? The table has long been the meeting place for people to gather and bond over a shared meal. As a chef, I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count — a connection forged through food.
At Heartfelt Catering, we live by our motto: fresh, simple, soulful, which means that we use the freshest, sustainable, local ingredients — no processed foods. We make everything from scratch and from the heart, so our work is a true labor of love. And it all stems from the love that we have for community.
Growing up in Detroit, my mother showed me just how closely food and community are related. While teaching me how to prepare traditional Southern dishes, my mother instilled the importance of hospitality. It was commonplace for us to have our dear friends’ favorite foods on hand just in case they unexpectedly dropped by. It’s part of the philosophy of treating your neighbors like family and that’s the foundation that Heartfelt Catering was built upon.
Many people are surprised to learn that we are a catering company with a passion for healthy food. In building Heartfelt Catering, it was extremely important to me to integrate healthy variations of Southern food onto my menu. It’s no secret that obesity and diabetes plague our communities around the country. Sadly, I’ve had first hand experience with this issue as my own mother and other family members have died from complications of type 2 diabetes. Recent headlines of food deserts in our communities has placed the spotlight directly on the long term affects of a lack of healthy food access and healthy food education All of us at Heartfelt Catering aim to do our part by rethinking the traditional approach to our favorite foods.
Another way I’ve found that we bond with our community is by expressing our love for the environment with gardening. A few years ago one of my neighbors shared canna lily bulbs with me, so I started planting them in our condo building garden. In addition to the environmental benefits it provides, the garden also serves as a connector between people who may not have interacted otherwise. It’s amazing how even the simplest gestures such as sharing a gardening tip can spark a conversation with a complete stranger. We’re planning on planting canna lilies again, but this year, they’ll be placed along the street to beautify our neighborhood. I’ve shared a few pictures of my garden on my Instagram page.
So, when I think about the question: how do we strengthen our community, I go back to two things: sharing food that is healthy and treating everyone like family. The weather is warm and the season is ripe for getting to know your neighbors. And for a little inspiration, I’d like to share this TED Talk by Candy Chang. It’s a great reminder that every single one of us can strengthen our communities.
Chef Cecelia Hamilton teaching kids at Common Thread about healthy cooking.
Farmers market bounty!