Chris Reinheimer: Food Brings Everyone Together

Dec 22, 2014 | Leadership


Chris Reinheimer, Director of Dining and Hospitality

Amazing. That’s the first word that comes to mind when trying to understand the connection of food to families, holidays, and memories. One of my most vivid memories is from when I was around 5. My Grandpa was carving a standing rib roast for our Christmas dinner. I don’t remember if it was any good, if it was under cooked, or over cooked, but I do remember the spectacle. It was our family extended family, sitting around multiple tables, watching my Grandpa proudly carve the meat and serve his family (wife, 4 kids, 6 Grandkids, multiple cousins, and a few Jewish friends). The pride in his eyes as he served his grandchildren first, then up the age ladder, will never be forgotten.  It was a moment of pure joy for him (he always served the kids first, saying “I need to grow my legacy”) and a feeling for me that I was loved. I don’t know why that moment stands out to me. Was it the start of a great meal? Was it the beginning of hearing our family give thanks for our many blessings? I don’t have the answer why, just thankful that that moment, our family Christmas dinner, is forever with me.

I could go on and on with my family’s traditions around holidays, but one thing that remains constant, is all of them include food. Whether it’s our candle light dinner in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, or the special Christmas pastry on Christmas morning, food is a large part of them. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the mess! The family bonding that takes place during each stage of the celebration will be recalled for years. Each family has the stories to tell…the one year that junior ate the whole pumpkin pie, or the crazy uncle who had too much Seagram’s 7 and fell asleep at the dinner table (okay, maybe that was just my crazy uncle), or when the newest member of the family was introduced. Food is what brought everyone together.

We strive to help create memories with food on a daily basis, within our community. I could quote research that shows that dining within community adds to overall intake, willingness to try new items, lower levels of stress markers, and the release of endorphins, to explain why we do, what we do. That would really short change the reason we do it. All of those above reasons are by products of what we do. We simply do it because we want to be one of the reasons that memories are made. We do that with different ways. Whether it’s a favorite recipe, the singing of happy birthday, the casual Sunday brunch, one of our many parties and events, or trying new recipes and ingredients, we always strive to nourish the mind, body, and soul of our MCH family.

This past year, we partnered with Wild Ridge Farm to purchase a small amount of organic produce on a weekly basis. Realizing the added benefits of the locally, organically grown produce, we began looking to see how we could enhance our organic offerings. Realizing that MCH serves approximately 350# of vegetables weekly, we couldn’t partner with enough organic growers to meet our weekly, monthly, or yearly needs. Looking forward to 2015 and beyond, I am beyond thrilled to announce a new venture that we are entering into going forward. We have been allowed access to 3+ acres of land on which to start growing our own sustainable vegetables. Clare Gardens, in partnership with the Franciscan Friars in Burlington and local farmers, will be planted this spring, producing tender greens by June, and root vegetables into Fall!

From our family to yours, may joyful memories be made this holiday season.