There are many things I’ve learned from Souper Jenny over the years. Perhaps the most valuable thing could simply be summed up as ‘How to Celebrate.’ Anyone who has been to one of her shops or events has seen it. Celebration. Any employee who has been to a holiday party or (even better) joined her for a staff getaway, has found themselves immersed in it. You see, Jenny doesn’t just like food. She isn’t simply a great host. She doesn’t just luck into the perfect vacation spots. She is very deliberate in making these decisions.
On a recent trip to the beaches of 30A in Florida, Jenny prepared several meals. There wasn't any particular occasion. It wasn't a birthday or a holiday. It was unexpected. It just stands out when someone makes a big display for no other reason than to do it. Jenny has taught me that every meal, every occasion and every situation is an opportunity to celebrate.
Of course, food is a great vehicle as it unifies us all. My grandfather used to say, ‘ya gotta eat.’ Some, like me, take the more mundane approach to eating and view it as a biological necessity. It’s something to get through as quickly as possible, so that I can get back to doing something more useful - like work. Satisfaction is cursory. Celebration is largely overlooked. Although most are probably not as robotic in their behavior, inspired by many years of living on ‘Planet Jenny’ I now realize that this is the antithesis of how Jenny does things.
Satiation IS completion. A meal is a work of art. It’s preparation takes creativity, passion, risk and feels most complete when it is shared with others.
I now know that it does not take a once in a lifetime vacation or a rare gathering of old friends to warrant a celebration. The key is living the moments, the details. You will always have these regardless of the setting. These are (to lean on a cooking metaphor) the ingredients. Life, straight up as it happens, moment to moment. The cat pukes. The fire alarm goes off. My kid falls and cries. A neighbor knocks on the door and wants to borrow Tabasco sauce. Any one by itself might not seem all that thrilling, but add them up and you have a feast right in the middle of your everyday life.
So what can you do? I challenge you to try to put a celebratory spin on something this week. Watch a movie, make popcorn and melt chocolate chips into it. Buy some fresh herbs (or grown them yourself) and use them to invent a new cocktail. Or play cards with your family and wear party hats. The hats were my daughter’s idea. A small thing, but no one else would have thought to do it. Celebrate. My kid gets it.
Every day the sun rises and sets and everywhere there is a celebration waiting to begin…
Eric Miller is the CFO for Planet Jenny. He loves running long distances, playing with his cat and is a beer connoisseur!