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By Hannah Connolly
efore asking anyone about the meal that changed their life, I thought it would be wise to figure out what my own answer would be - in order to best get to grips with the concept.
For me, I was transported to a moment of my childhood. It was a cold, very cold, winter's day and I was with my grandparents. I had fallen over in the snow and to warm me up my grandad gave me a book, a blanket, and presented the most amazing meal that I have ever eaten: a golden, perfectly buttered, slice of toast. It was from here on that I became obsessed with the idea of reading to relax.
A slice of toast and a good book has remained my place of calm ever since. This meant that sitting down to chat with CEO of TOAST, Suzie de Rohan Willner, was both serendipitous and all the more exciting, as she detailed how it is often the simplest of meals that can change your outlook forever.
From working across Europe to the ateliers of TOAST in Wales, Suzie radiates a sense of joy in both her work and words, explaining the importance of attracting positive energies and how we should all give that back out into the world in return. She believes that when it comes to food, passion is a flavour. A sensation that surpasses even the palette and in truth, sticks with you for life - for there's no greater meal than a meal made with passion.
Suzie explains the meal that changed her life, in her own words.
Around A Trestle Table
I thought long and hard about the best meal I have ever had, but actually, it comes down to a very simple moment, as it so often does. I have had some amazing meals around the world and I have been very lucky and have travelled throughout my life. You remember certain moments and certain meals, of course.
Yet, when I thought hard, it brought me to a moment in time at TOAST about two years ago. It was after we had gotten through the first few years of helping the brand get to its current place. Working with this team of highly passionate people had just been phenomenal and that was the point we were at.
We did a Friday meal every week, when we were all in the office and everyone would sit there on a long wooden table on trestles. It wasn't very pretty, everyone just pulled up a stool or even their desk chair, anything to get around the table. It was a weekly thing and this particular time stood out.
Tasting The Passion
The Little Cooking Pot brought the food, they are this amazing duo called Aitana and Sarah and they serve vegan and vegetarian cooking, finding inspiration through travelling the world. You get that in the food - you can taste their passion. They bring the food along in big earthwear pots and they explain everything and hand write these little cards telling you what is in it.
It's different all the time. It could be Mexican, Georgian, Indian, a combination - but whenever I know they are coming I ask them to bring their Sri Lankan coconut cinnamon dhal. It is their signature and it is beautiful. There is this tangible joy as you serve yourself and that comes from what they put into it. This mix of foods, seasonal and locally sourced side salads and homemade cakes for dessert, all laid out in front of you.
The point is, I sat there two years ago and I looked around that table and thought, it is the simplicity of what we are eating, the love and passion of the two individuals that made it and the beautiful energy of the people sitting around me. That group of people, in that particular moment in time, was so special and it actually changed the way I think about a lot of things.
If someone would have told me this years earlier I would have benefited because suddenly it came to me: surround yourself with beautiful people and energy - whatever that means for you. It could be amazing popping energy, it might be a peaceful slow energy, I personally like a mix. The thing is, it makes a huge difference to the way we navigate the world.
You need to be quite considerate and purposeful about this, who you are around, and the more you do that the more you end up surrounded with this magic that propels you forward.
I am a true believer in the power of energy. We all know when we are around people we don't feel right with, we feel that intrinsically. It is an energetic repelling or attraction and we should listen to those instincts - it's not that anything is wrong with that person, it's just they don't enhance or develop you. Really, we all want to broaden our minds and attract people that can contribute to our wellbeing and likewise in a way that we can give wellbeing back to them.
I find myself in the very, very privileged position of going to work everyday with this group of incredible creatives at TOAST who I have massive respect for. The role of CEO is different today, you have to know how to support groups of driven people and help them perform at the top of their game.
It is a delight for me to work with this incredibly talented group of people.
From coconut dhal to a new perspective, Suzie de Rohan Willner shares the meal that changed her life with The Stack.
By Hannah Connolly