Last night was the final of the #GBBO with plenty of great moments, a fair share of challenges and flops and thankfully no soggy bottoms.
For me the most interesting conversation it sparked and has been discussed on the Radio last night and this morning, is around the power and positive impact that baking can have on our mood and mental health. The physical experience of kneading or folding; the requirement of having to slow down and the opportunity to connect through the sharing, eating and conversations that happen when baking, cooking and eating with others, connects us. The relationship between baking and mental health is well established.
Sadly the word that has stayed with me from last night’s Bake Off is ‘depressing’ – it is the one that winner Rahul chose to describe himself when asked, so I was glad to hear this morning that he has spoken about actively using baking as a way of building connections with others. I hope he continues to do this. It was also interesting to see that months on from the Bake Off experience, the contestants are still meeting up with food at the heart of their time together.
23 years ago I opened my first business The High Tide Cafe following a year of working in Italy. This year had been both the best of times – inspiring me to open my restaurant and meeting one of my very dearest friends, and the worst of times – suffering from deep loneliness and the impact of that on my everyday life. Creating a business that centered around the making, serving, sharing and love of food served as an antidote to this. It allowed me to enjoy one of my greatest passions at the same time as offering the opportunity for real, shared connection with the people who worked with me and the people who came to eat with us.
In her book, The Village Effect, Susan Pinker talks about food, drink and social bonds. She brings to life how eating together doesn’t just feel good, it does good – from increasing a child’s vocabulary, to tackling loneliness. We know this intuitively and for example in our family and plenty of others I know of, we have taken steps to protect this with family rules around no smart phones – or indeed landline phone calls – at mealtimes!
At The Conversation Space, we believe in strengthening human connection through the power of conversation. How exciting then, that for our new #ConversationalWisdom programme we will be using the experience of connecting over food as a way of deepening our conversational skills together.
If you’d like to find out more about how we empower people to be more effective in their workplace conversations, you can get in touch or call me on 07880 656827 – I’d love to chat, maybe even over a slice of cake!