Last Saturday, I was invited to my brother’s house for an afternoon “working session.” We toiled away in his upstairs home office while his wife, Miss Mary, visited with her sister, Dianne. As we went over story and essay ideas for his next book, I could hear the sounds of kitchen tools mixed in with laughter and conversation. At six o’clock, we were summoned to dinner.
Sharing a meal with friends and family is a special treat.
Here at The Coop, my evening meal is often eaten standing up at the counter and it might consist of some cheese and crackers washed down with raw goat milk. The Encyclopedic Cook Book makes it seem easy to be a gal on the go with a meal routine.
(From Culinary Arts Institute’s The Encyclopedic Cook Book, copyright 1950.)
For a while, it seemed like the almost-sacred act of family mealtime might make a comeback. In her 1980 basement, Doris Christopher had an idea to help preserve family mealtime and she created The Pampered Chef. So enticing was the idea, I became a Pampered Chef consultant in the early 1990’s. After a day of working at my first Big Corporation, I’d lug my two crates of tools and baking stones into someone’s house and demonstrate simple recipes. I developed my “pitch” or “testimonial” about why I wanted to be a successful consultant. The Pampered Chef “business opportunity” was going to help me become the person I wanted most to be, which was a stay at home wife and mother. Even though I didn’t have any children, if I just sold enough pizza stones, this life might be possible.
After my first few months of minor success, my up-line director and I traveled to Chicago for a Pampered Chef national conference. It was a well-orchestrated event and although I didn’t get to meet Doris Christopher personally, her stage presence was just as humble and wise as she seemed in the various consultant publications I received. When I got home from Chicago, I set up my own basement office in the suburban Cape Cod-style house my husband and I owned. I toiled away at my “direct sales opportunity” for another year until my day job demanded more of my energy.
Things didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped.
The Pampered Chef, Ltd. is still in business. Berkshire Hathaway acquired the company in 2002 and I’m glad things turned out well for Doris Christopher. I still have most of the kitchen tools and baking stones from that entrepreneurial venture and I do most of my cooking on the weekends when I try to stock-pile meals for the coming week. It’s not perfect and it’s not like having a meal with family and friends.
I’m sure someone is working on a smart phone application for it, though, and when they do I’ll be the first person to download it. Until then, I’m grateful to the people who keep mealtime sacred and occasionally invite me to their table.
It seems a weiner dog is a requirement. And though that glass table is stylish, how does one sit down at it with a plant growing underneath?
I’ve got some nice Pampered Chef toys, apple peelers (with an attachment that perhaps you can explain, since neither the company nor the website can), choppers, the like, but I got them at thrift stores.
Funny how food goes so much further and tastes so much better when it’s shared with friends and family. Especially when Mary cooks it.
I do remember when Pampered Chef was all the rage; I’m sure Miss Mary still has PC cooking gadgets remaining from the 80s; I think Mark’s former nursery school teacher is still in the biz.
Sharing meals; breaking bread with friends–these were things that were common with people and friends, while families gathered around food, drink, and sometimes polka music (remember Richie’s gatherings?). It’s not quite the same sitting down around a Facebook post, as it is across the table from real humans. We are all very, very busy.
Glad you were able to join us. It was fun.