Ken Starr, Bill Clinton and Canapés

One of the things I love most about what we do is the people
we get to meet and serve.

This April, the first of our companies, roomforty, celebrates 10 years, and over those years, we have served more people, and more fascinating, unique and sincerely lovely people than we could have ever imagined when we started this.

One of the things I’m struck by is how different people are when their guard is down, and how food and drink served with care has the ability to disarm people. When a tone of nurture has been set, it’s amazing the discussions and the listening that can happen in that context.

We served Bill Clinton and Kenneth Starr the same year (at different events obviously), and when we served them, they were more than the sum of their headlines and positions—they were people responding
with graciousness to our team.

I’ll admit it’s unlikely, but I wondered aloud what could happen if we were able to set the table, and invite both men, (whom I imagine aresworn arch-enemies),
to dinner.

That’s something else I love about what we do—is that we are in the business of nourishment, so we get to see the best in people. Thank God.
We could’ve been dentists.

One of my secret fantasies is to curate guest lists out of the thousands of people we served, make meals, and facilitate dinner conversation—
just to see what happens.

In times of division and uncertainty, I know for me it is easy to feel overwhelmed. I hear the call to focus on what unites us, as opposed to what divides us, but if I’m honest, I struggle knowing how to put that into action.

It’s time like these the words of Burma’s great lady of transformation, Suu Kyi, are so helpful:

“Those who do nothing to improve the world, have no hope for it. Don't just stand there despairing. Do something.” 
                                        - Suu Kyi

But do what?

Subscribe to a new podcast? Go to a town hall meeting? Write open letters? Organize? All of it?

I’d like to humbly suggest, that one of the best things you can do, is….

Make meals.

Meals prepared and served with thoughtfulness can do so much to make people feel cared for, and what comes out of people in that space—is beautiful.

There’s much that goes on in the “hospitality industry” that isn’t very hospitable. Ours is the only the industry that has co-opted a virtue for its name, without requiring that virtue be present when operating.

But for us, hospitality is what happens when the people we create for and serve, experience connection with one another. And connection (when our true selves are seen, heard and celebrated) requires vulnerability.

And vulnerability requires emotional safety.
And nurture helps people feel emotionally safe.
And there’s little in life that is as nurturing as a good meal and a good glass served with love.

So for our part, we want to encourage you to use your table as a place to bring people together. You could even get really crazy, and invite people who see things very differently than you do.

Set a tone of nurture, and watch what happens. It’s an action you can take, and
as we act, hope rises.

Of course you’re not in this all alone. Here at Hospitality Collaborative with catering by roomforty, event venue by The Fig House & bar services by Pharmacie Co, we are always available to help and would love to hear the vision for the next meal you’d like to host. You can reach out to us via phone (323.254.4100) or send us an email ( We’re here for you to offer any guidance you may need in your next endeavor to
nourish the people in your life.

Here’s to your next good meal.

Steve Fortunato
Founder / CEO Hospitality Collaborative