A little over a year ago, our “A Quick Bite With” series launched with the hopes of understanding the undeniable devotion society maintains to the existence of food. Setting out to better understand the correlation between food and success, the series rapidly redirected itself into a selfless conversation about the importance of community. At the epicenter of every table dialog was the undeniable truths of the positive impact food imposes on individuals, their future and all aspects of collective engagement.
In basic terms, community is built on conversations and conversations are happening over shared meals with friends and strangers.
“Starting up Creative Hub Worcester, an Arts Community Center, requires constant networking,” says Laura Marotta, co-founder of the Creative Hub. Through conversation among friends and new business affiliates, Marotta has discovered an underlying connection between food and building a sense of community. “There are so many connections between food and art, food and creativity, and food and culture. Restaurants and bars are the kinds of places that enable conversations about community and business.”
Sharing ideas over a meal is an innate ability within our societies. People of different origins, religions and backgrounds flock to the table in hopes of encountering a night of dialog and a close feeling of civic engagement.
“Since the beginning of time, gathering for meals has been one of the fundamental ways for people to come together and socialize. Breaking bread together always gives people something else to focus on and to satisfy, while we are thinking, talking, and socializing,” says Marotta. “Whether we are trying something new with friends, meeting a co-worker for appetizers, or holding a business meeting at a new restaurant: these are all examples of how food brings us together from so many different areas of life.”
Of Italian descent, Marotta’s connection and understanding of food runs deep. “On top of being Italian, I lived in Venice, Italy for six months when I was studying at Boston University,” she says. “Many of the Northern Italian seafood dishes were my absolute favorite, and I am always looking for a similar dining experience here in the United States.” In Italy, food and community are one in the same. Families open the doors to other families and naturally create a close community through the simple act of sharing food. Food, for Italians, is something to be savored and enjoyed. It is something to be analyzed, studied and examined at a leisurely pace and without an ounce of greed. “My mom used to always make manicotti but it is a dish that is not always replicated properly here in the States,” she says. “I look forward to dining out and trying to restaurants and finding dishes that resemble the Italian food sold in Venice, Italy. With my partner, Stacy, we often cook at home together but when we need a break from the stressors of life, we always head out to a restaurant.” Between meeting new people and eliminating the inevitable stress factors of life, dining out for Marotta is simply about positive community interactions.
“If I had to choose between preparing a meal for six close friends at home or taking them out to dine, I would always choose to take them out,” says Marotta. Working in Worcester, during the period of groundbreaking revitalization, Marotta finds herself surrounded by many good dining options to give her close friends an epic experience of her community. “There are so many great new dining experiences to be had in Worcester,” she says. “I often take friends to The People’s Kitchen and Citizen Wine Bar as they have something for everyone. Whether we order from the variety of dishes offered on the menu or simply order wine, cheese and a chocolate pairing, it is hard not to satisfy everyone’s craving.”
As a person fully emerged in the community and with a mission to give the back a sense of creative empowerment, Marotta sees food as the gateway to achieving community goals.