I believe that most Americans are unhappy because our lack of authentic community has undermined our spirit and sense of Joie de Vivre. We have enabled technology to erode our society by allowing it to hijack the hospitality experience. We no longer have places to go to that provide comfort and the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. Across America every cafe, restaurant, barber shop, gym and hotel lobby is filled with televisions and people glued to their mobile devices engaged in the rude behavior of “Phubbing”. This practice of snubbing others in favor of technology is causing a mental health crisis as it threatens our fundamental needs: a sense of belonging, self-esteem and meaningful existence. Americans are also struggling with being exploited by social media, food and soda companies and a health-care system focused on treatment rather than prevention.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Martin, Founder and Hostess in Chief of ‘Style & Entertaining’. Ms. Martin began her career in Washington, DC helping world-renowned fashion brands in formulating and executing international sourcing strategies. She then worked in Silicon Valley and London on the founding teams of start-ups whose innovative technology managed the supply chains for the world’s top multinational corporations. She is a graduate of The American University School of International Service. It was there she honed her skills in the Art of Dinner Party Diplomacy.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a businesswoman often travelling alone, I made a hobby out of tasting the signature dishes of the area’s top chefs. I would also learn about the best wines to pair with each dish, and home décor styles for entertaining, as well as authentic music to play.
Upon my return home, I would host a dinner party that recreated the experience for my friends and neighbors including Helen, age 95 to Siena, age 6. An invitation to gather around the dinner table at my lovely pied-a-terre on Nob Hill is still one of the most cherished culinary experiences in San Francisco.
I founded Style & Entertaining to share my knowledge and help Americans of all ages rediscover the joy of cooking in the comfort of home.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
For me living “on purpose” means that I am living in the present, doing what I love and accomplishing what is important to me. I have come to learn that when I am living on purpose the people, resources and opportunities I need find their way to me like magical puzzle pieces.
I was born in Providence, Rhode Island the design and culinary capital of America. Growing up, my childhood birthday parties celebrated the cultures and cuisines of friends whose ancestors came from all over the world to contribute to the American Dream. I enjoyed learning to create authentic global cuisines alongside French Canadian, Italian, Portuguese, African American, Polish, Irish, Israeli, Greek, Scandinavian, Armenian, Filipino and Chinese mothers and grandmothers.
It was in sharing those experiences those family recipes, cooking skills and long-standing traditions were passed on to me. It was also how I learned table manners and social etiquette — and how the older generations learned the latest and greatest from me.
My award-winning Dinner Party Kits provide lessons on my Culinary “Her Story” of America.
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
I had just lost my job in London. In coming to terms with my newfound unemployed status, I discovered what I enjoyed most about my whole career was actually the food, wine and travel!
To celebrate my epiphany, as well as my last paycheck, I invited my closest friends to a globally inspired gourmet dinner party. Several friends declared it the best meal they had ever eaten!
I took a class called Kick Starting Your Creativity. The teacher discussed the concept of applied creativity and exploratory creativity. She emphasized the importance of giving oneself space and time within which to discover the idea without necessarily knowing where it will lead.
Being creative for the process and not the outcome has enabled me to move away from my former high tech sales executive career and embrace living on purpose and celebrate my design, culinary and hospitality talents through my own business.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
I believe that most Americans are unhappy because our lack of authentic community has undermined our spirit and sense of Joie de Vivre.
We have enabled technology to erode our society by allowing it to hijack the hospitality experience. We no longer have places to go to that provide comfort and the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
Across America every cafe, restaurant, barber shop, gym and hotel lobby is filled with televisions and people glued to their mobile devices engaged in the rude behavior of “Phubbing”.
This practice of snubbing others in favor of technology is causing a mental health crisis as it threatens our fundamental needs: a sense of belonging, self-esteem and meaningful existence.
Americans are also struggling with being exploited by social media, food and soda companies and a health-care system focused on treatment rather than prevention.
For Americans tired of a two-party system, 2019 is a great year for them to gather around the dinner table and begin the process of healing by joining the Style & Entertaining Dinner Party!
Eating healthy, home cooked meals has a profound effect on maintaining a healthy weight, as well as how you feel. It also helps prevent/manage diseases, including high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Cooking healthy meals at home with friends and family is also a great form of social engagement and promotes emotional well-being.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My award-winning Dinner Kits make learning to prepare healthy, globally inspired California cuisines affordable to anyone anywhere.
They are a fun, creative way to help intergenerational Americans gather around the dinner table to remember face-to-face is and always will be the most authentic social network. It is about knowing your neighbors and looking out for each other. All around the world loneliness and isolation is having a devastating impact on our mental health and social well-being.
My Dinner Kits teach a plant forward style of cooking and eating that emphasizes and celebrates, but is not limited to, plant-based foods — including fruits and vegetables (produce); whole grains; beans, legumes (pulses), and soy foods; nuts and seeds; plant oils; and herbs and spices — and that reflects evidence-based principles of health and sustainability.
The included shopping list helps to learn how to buy, prepare and cook the top 100 foods for health and wellness and support the local community by shopping the over 8,800 Farmer’s markets in the United States.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
#1 Live a Digital Detox Lifestyle at Home
Each morning when I awake I put on classical music and make myself a cup of coffee. I return to my bedroom to sit quietly on my settee and listen to the birds sing.
#2 Let Mother Nature Nurture
If it is nice outside I will spend time in my garden in downtown San Francisco. I have come to enjoy learning the importance of pruning my plants so that I can cut away the dead and give way for new growth. I have also adopted this in my personal life.
#3 Be Present
I have learned to get in touch with the silence within me and that worrying about the past or future blocks my participation in the magic of the moment.
#4 Life is not a dress rehearsal.
Losing friends, mentors and colleagues in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s has helped me to clearly see that we have a limited time on earth.
#5 Good Food = Good Mood
I have improved my health by learning how to prepare a variety of delicious healthy recipes by selecting, preparing and cooking locally grown fruits and vegetables — from the over 8,800 U.S farmers markets throughout the U.S.
# 6 Spice Up Your Life!
I also enjoy prepare flavorful recipes using herbs and spices that help me eat healthier by cutting down on salt, fat and sugar when cooking. I cook with spices and herbs that help curb my hunger and boost metabolism — which helps me maintain a healthy weight and prevent disease.
I find these experiences help me face the day with “Joie De Vivre”. I enjoy spending time learning about and connecting with the great creators of music, art, literature, food and the greatest creator of the all…Mother Nature. I walk to my design studio with a head full of inspiration. It is only at work that I turn on my computer, check emails and engage briefly in the news of the day. I am joyful that I have a creative game plan for the day.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
My most inspiring books are Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and Setting the Table: The Transformative Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer.
Every Sunday I go outside and play! I visit the Walt Disney Family Museum for a unique look at the life and times of Walt Disney. I am inspired by his story and how despite the ups and downs he always followed his dream to create a place for families and friends to explore creativity and imagination. I admire his gifts of Imagineering and authentic story telling.
I will then head to Ocean Beach! I enjoy the laid-back California beach vibe on Sunday afternoons watching surfers try to catch a wave and listening to live music at the Beach Chalet. I am inspired by the sounds and beauty of the Ocean waves. I also admire the tenacity of the surfers. They provide me great inspiration to get back up and try to catch the next wave.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The purpose of life…is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt
While bootstrapping Style & Entertaining I reached out for new experiences that would add value to my life.
My hands-on learning includes product development and design at Williams Sonoma, Inc., innovative restaurant and hospitality consulting for Marriott International, catering and event design for the most elegant parties in Northern California as well as genuine hospitality of Morton’s The Steakhouse and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
I went back to school old-school to study Nutrition & Culinary Arts and Hospitality Marketing. I am graduate of the inaugural class of the Scale Up Your (Authentic) Business Intensive at the Food Business School (FBS) at the Culinary Institute of American.
These newer and richer experiences inspired me in the conceptualizing, design and building of the Style & Entertaining Social Club™.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We’re Bringing Social Back
In 2018 I opened the first Style & Entertaining Social Club™ at the elegant Crocker Galleria, fashioned after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan and home to San Francisco’s Favorite Small Farmers’ Market and unique local Pop-Up small businesses.
It is a fresh new restaurant and culinary arts hospitality concept. We host Lunch and Learn, Modern Fine Dining, The Cocktail Party Reimagined, Dinner Party Diplomacy and after-work Wellness Experiences. We also encourage a sense of exploration among guests with a regular rotation of local artisan tastings, Farmer’s Market Tours and cooking demonstrations.
Style & Entertaining Social Club™ Rules
Cellular phones, other digital communication devices and laptop computers must remain off and may not be used in any of the areas of the Club. Communication shall be Face-to-Face to create actual, present-moment, in-person relationships. “Phubbing”, the practice of snubbing others in favor of our mobile phones, is not permitted.
Innovation and Design Lab
I spoke with consumers from all over the world about time and balance, the complexities of their lives and grocery shopping. As well as what motivates them to participate in cooking and entertaining at home. Taking customer ideas and suggestions I have 25 new global themed Dinner Kits and Experiences for Foodservice in Product Development and Design.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My goal is to inspire an intergenerational movement for Social Well-being and Sustainability.
I am looking to launch the Style & Entertaining Social Club™ across America and am looking for a Hospitality or Mall Management Partner.
It is designed as a place to bring people of diverse ages and cultures together and create engaging experiences that actually play a vital role in society. An ongoing rotation of literary, music, educational and entertainment events are featured, providing a constant source of inspiration to help generations of all ages engage with one another in fun, creative ways.
The Style & Entertaining Social Club™ taps into pop culture nostalgia and celebrates local heritage — where every dish on the menu originated in the local area or region — and then work with nearby farmers, fishers, bakers, etc. to bring this hyperlocal vision to life.
Large and Growing Opportunity
AARP recently estimated that in the United States alone, annual economic activity by those over 50 is at least $7.1 trillion now and will reach $13.5 trillion by 2032. The opportunity to serve this market is vast for those with the background and skills to reach this population.