Decide on your date and guest list; we need a minimum of 12 guests for a supper. You provide the venue, dinnerware, drinks and plenty of serving utensils. We ask our cooks to make one dessert. It is usually something like baklava. We suggest that hosts provide some fruit as a supplement, along with coffee/tea at the end of the meal.
A skilled cook, interpreter and signup calendar. Your cook will arrive with food, set it up and join you for a delightful night of connecting. Please note our cooks do not serve or clean up, they participate as guests.
Many cultures, such as observant Muslims, do not drink alcohol. You will want to have juice/spritzers/soda/seltzer on hand. Some families are not comfortable being in the presence of alcohol, while others don’t mind if their American neighbors imbibe. We will coordinate with you on this issue..
Many of our cooks and their families are extremely afraid of dogs. Most are uncomfortable with them. Plan to have your dog in another room.
Social norms around gender:
In general, religiously observant Muslim men and women do not touch. When a man greets a veiled woman, rather than offering his hand, he places his hand on his chest. Women: wait to see if a man extends his hand. If he does not, do not initiate a handshake.
Our volunteer interpreters are important to the success of the evening. Their role is to facilitate connection. Be aware of social dynamics and if the cooks and their families start to separate, actively encourage them to integrate with the guests.
Whether or not an interpreter is present at your evening, please encourage everybody to use Google translate or similar to facilitate further communication between everyone.
Are great! If your interpreter is willing, bilingual nametags are fun.
General comments of concern and sympathy for ongoing global conflicts are welcome but avoid probing questions. Most resettled families had traumatic departures and have been separated from parents, siblings and adult children. Follow their lead and allow them to guide the conversation in the direction they feel comfortable.
Gather around the table:
We suggest you gather everyone around the table and welcome all guests; introduce yourself, the cook, and encourage your guests to introduce themselves as well. Supper club guests enjoy learning about the food they are eating –ask the cook, with interpreter, to explain the food.
Hello to hosting:
Please encourage guests to visit our website and sign up to host a supper; more events allow us to expand the support we offer. If you have a guest with a particular skill or social connection, please refer him or her to us. As we build our organization, we appreciate new talent and contributions.
Please do ask guests to photograph their food and friends, and share the tagged images on social media
(see below on photography guidance). #theunitedtastesofamerica #sharefoodshapefutures #breakbreadbuildbridges
Some of our cooks and female guests are shy and retreat to the familiarity of the kitchen. Please encourage them to sit at the table and actively integrate them. Seat them next to a translator, for example.
Dignity and parity:
Our model brings the cook and guests to the table together as equals, reaffirming the dignity of our new neighbors. Please avoid monetizing the evening by giving ‘tips’ or donations of clothing. Such giving can backfire by creating unsustainable expectations and resentment among our community of cooks. Support our cooks by giving them opportunities to cook.
In general, our resettled families are very sensitive about photographs. For some, there are security concerns about family living in conflict zones. For others, there is a generalized cultural discomfort with photographs posted on social media. Please refrain from taking or posting photographs of the cooks and their families without explicit permission.
Encourage people to take photographs of the food, and of their own friends and post them on social media. Posting photographs on Facebook and Instagram helps publicize the United Tastes of America and brings us more hosts and donations.
Please tag your photos to help us spread the word #theunitedtastesofamerica