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CHEF'S TABLE: 'Human connection' just got a little cheesy

After Georgian College hospitality team's night out on the town, food columnist says 'workplace bonds make a real difference'

“When you’re working with your friends, it doesn’t feel like it’s work.” – Ken Jeong

Have you noticed a change at work? Are your workplace dynamics a little off? It feels somehow strange and a little foreign around the water cooler.

You’re not alone. The pandemic and its aftermath have had a huge impact on how we work, how we relate and our boundaries between work and personal time.
For many people the ambiguous lines between their work and personal lives seems to have helped fuel a rise in burnout.

Maybe what we are missing is a human connection.

Our relationships are important. There are many studies and research papers out there that will tell just that. But as any hospitality professional will tell you, it's the people and those connections that we make that help us thrive.

Our connections to one another have struggled these last few years. All the activities and things that were once easy and fun ways to connect and stay connected had become less so. And it’s been a slow return to what would be considered normal.

One of the key factors that make for happier, healthier workers is how connected people feel with their colleagues, says Dr. Robert Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies on what makes humans thrive.

"The people who had the warmest connections with other people weren't just happier, they stayed healthier longer and they lived longer," Waldinger says. "We get little hits of well-being, if you will, from all kinds of relationships, from friends, family, work colleagues."

And since much of our waking lives are spent at work, workplace bonds make a real difference. Unfortunately, the lack of social connection at work is starting to
be recognized as a growing problem.

Our answer to this challenging problem? Inject a little fun into our routines and plan an outing for our Georgian College hospitality team.

Sometimes you're lucky enough to have all the key elements of an exceptional hospitality experience come together. When it does you are guaranteed an amazing time with amazing people.

The chef in me is always up for a great educational experience that involves fine food and exceptional libations. Last Friday, our team got to enjoy just that.

We had the perfect venue, an exceptional educational experience, easy comfort, and camaraderie of trusted friends.

The venue? The Speakcheasy at J’adore Fine Cheese Chocolate and Wine in downtown Barrie. What does J’adore mean? It means “I love” and there is so much to love! They have 200 varieties of artisanal cheese from around the world, chocolates and truffles made in house, and an excellent selection. For nine years ,they have been the city's one-stop shop for 'turophiles' (cheese connoisseurs) and foodies alike looking to entertain.

The next question would be, what is a Speakcheasy? It’s only the most elegant and creative event space in the city! Intimate and sexy, it's an inspirational taste of the 1920s.

It's also well suited as the home of exceptional tasting and educational experiences. The event calendar posts a variety of different tastings and special events, while also catering to everyone from wine lovers to whiskey drinkers.

On our night out, we were there to see one of our own and to learn something new. On our night, the educational experience was provided by Damien Detcheverry, sales representative for le sommelier and a new faculty member in the Georgian College hospitality department.

Damien has been working in the hospitality industry since he was 15, and has travelled the world developing a love and appreciation for exceptional wines and the craftsmanship behind them. We are very lucky to have his expertise and experience guiding our students in the fundamentals of wines and spirits for our programs.

This tasting was something that neither my colleagues nor I had ever tried before. Orange wine — also known as skin-contact white wine, skin-fermented white wine, or amber wine — is a type of wine made from white wine grapes where the grape skins are not removed, as in typical white wine production, and stay in contact with the juice for days or even months. It makes for a unique and complex wines which the J’adore team was able to pair perfectly with a cheese to complement. And not an orange in sight!

We have a great team at Georgian and our experience together that night was a good example of what makes a great team. It's moments and experiences that we get to share together that build up our team and make us all a little happier.

We each bring a passion for hospitality and a genuine sense of caring and support for one another to the table. When you can connect with the people around you at that level, work seems a little less work-like and a little bit more fun.

And that is the teamwork that makes the dream work.

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Daniel Clements

About the Author: Daniel Clements

In his bi-weekly Chef's Table column, Daniel will be looking at everything from local crops and trends in the business to seasonal delights and the local restaurant scene
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