Over the course of the next few months, I want slowly to share the key experiences that have shaped me in terms of food and agriculture. My story isn’t linear. Only when my love of food and agriculture began growing in college did I begin to see the significance of my childhood and family history. And only when I realized my own personal (albeit untraditional) ties to food and agriculture, did I find the deep energy and passion to pursue a career around these topics. This week I finish looking at my college years.
I always tell people that I studied agricultural communication because my three passions in life are food, people and words. It’s not surprising then that my work and personal life also revolved around these topics.
Working with Coffee
During my time at Purdue, I also worked at a coffee shop on campus, Greyhouse Coffee Supply & Co. Although owned by a well-known Purdue campus ministry, Greyhouse wasn’t a “Christian” coffee shop but a coffee shop operating from a Christian view of the world.
Greyhouse is nestled among Purdue’s bars and restaurants. It is one of the few places where you could find Purdue’s prominent faculty drinking coffee next to two students studying the Bible.
The glory and beauty of being in the world but not of it. Striving to marry quality with efficiency. The emphasis on excellence and beauty. The desire to create a place where community is cultivated over food. These are the lessons that Greyhouse instilled in me.
Plus, it was fun and interesting. I understand the coffee industry better. I picked up habits that I implement in my kitchen. I enjoy coffee more because of the job. I met a lot of cool people. I made a crepe for a Purdue president (not Mitch), and there was a miscommunication about the order, and she wasn’t super understanding about it… not a shining moment in my culinary career. A good story nonetheless.
On a side note, I Googled images of Greyhouse Coffee and Supply Co. and this picture of my brother (who now works at Greyhouse) from the Big Central Competition recap popped up. I love his quote about why he’s passionate about coffee: “Coffee is an agricultural product that has the ability to expand cultures & change lives.”
Hospitality + Cooking
The apartment I shared with an RUF friend became the place where I learned to cook. I had years of watching my family create wonderful food and I was decent at following recipes. But during those two years at my apartment, I shopped for myself, researched recipes and experimented with techniques. Studio 9 was my bootcamp for a lifetime of cooking.
I kept myself alive and fed a posse of people along the way.
My roommate and I hosted weekly dinners on Thursday nights at our apartment, Studio 9 (see above for the best pic I could find). Through those dinners, I learned that sharing of one’s life usually correlates with sharing one’s table. Coffee dates at Greyhouse, dining hall lunches on Sunday, RUF ministry team meals at the home of our pastor and his wife and drinks at the bars showed me that food is the starting point for deepening relationships.
Our friend John shared some thoughts about the weekly dinners at Studio 9 and the power of food. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Hospitality is an attitude of the heart that seeks to turn strangers into guests and friends, especially people that the world excludes.