Potluck Suppers and Brownbag Lunches

“We could call Malone.”

Malone loves the char siu ribs which have become widely known as my husband’s specialty. They are really, really good, something you never get tired of eating —the first time. When the chef is in the family you do get a bit spoiled about not wanting to eating them as leftovers though; just not the same as heat-plumped and juicy off the grill. Problem is, his char siu rib recipe is one that just isn’t worth making for less than a crowd; when we get hungry for them we think of Malone and our other friends, and will usually call them saying, “Hey, want us to do the cooking tonight?”

Well, I call, he cooks!

Potluck Suppers

When our children were younger, we’d have potluck suppers every Saturday night with neighbors and friends. It replaced the pre-kids dating-days extravagances to which we’d have to add paying a babysitter. Now that both our kids are in college, and miles away on the mainland, the potluck suppers still happen, but as a consequence of those char siu cravings, and when we make Costco runs fully aware that bulk buying is not meant for just two people.

There is one other reason our potluck dinners still happen: A biggie. Come to think of it, it may have always been THE reason, with everything else just fortifying the inherent wisdom of eating with company. Sure, we saved time and money (and leftovers), got more variety in our meals, and were able to entertain our families with other people’s kids and no babysitters (or the TV). But the biggie was talking story: Our potluck suppers were about being neighborly, being friendly, and sharing our aloha in the community of people we liked, respected and admired. We taught each other a lot more than how not to waste perfectly good food.

Brownbag Lunches

You get very spoiled when you work in the hotel business. Along with the job, you get your meals in the employee cafeteria. It’s one of those beautiful match-ups where a great employee benefit with huge intangible ROI, also happens to be a brilliant way to take care of banquet leftovers and over-zealous restaurant prep or the ‘spoils’ of chef-training, and leverage your purchasing buying power to boot.

I freely admit that I have taught managers how to good-way eavesdrop in employee cafeterias. It’s part of their Kākou ‘language of we’ coaching, where we get in the habit of picking out the “we” “us” and “our” versus the ‘me, me, me’ “you” and “them” statements which are red flags:

Kākou is the language of “we.” And the language of we stimulates ownership and personal responsibility in the all-encompassing initiatives of a company. If you hear your employees talk about “our company” versus “the company” you know you’re on the right track. They feel they have a stake in what you do, and they take actions they believe are important and worthwhile. They are your partners, and these words of inclusiveness imply that they feel their voices and opinions are considered carefully in the decisions you make.

Kākou in Managing with Aloha

However you don’t have to be in the hotel business to get these benefits of talking story around lunch tables —or in potluck suppers. You could have brownbag lunches (or monthly potluck picnics). Tap into your water-cooler conversations in the workplace by simply making sure you have a place where people can congregate over their meals —and no, that table everyone uses outside for smoke breaks doesn’t cut it.

  • How do you congregate to talk story in your workplace?
  • Congregation can worry managers so unnecessarily” how does the worry turn into a more promising prospect?
  • What other benefits are to be gained from your brownbag lunches?

Let’s talk story.

Comment here, or via the tweet-conversation we have on Twitter @sayalakai.



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~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” ~
Potluck Suppers and Brownbag Lunches


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