I would like to tell you three stories from my life that define who I am.
Story One. I was born in London and raised in the Middle East. My mother was an avid cook and my father was a fantastic eater (every great cook needs curious and critical audience). We travelled solely for food and there were two unwritten rules on the road – first, there is nothing that shouldn’t be tried, and second, we never ordered the same thing on the menu. Every meal was communal and travel was as much about the people we would meet as it was about their food. My parents taught me that the greatest form of travel was to be at someone’s dining table in their home.
Story Two. When I was 27, I went to work in the kitchen of Lou Lou, a Belgian chef and owner of a 4-room hotel in Goa. I was paid in afternoon pool swims. Every morning we sat together with a fresh pot of coffee in the library surrounded by cookbooks composing a menu for the following day. In my 4 months there, no dish was repeated. One evening prior to dinner service, Lou Lou made me move the dinner table outdoors around the property several times till we finally placed it in the courtyard. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t make up her mind. Post dinner, I went to check on the guests. The candle-less dinner table was placed at a perfect angle floodlit by a full moon. There is nothing more beautiful than a dinner table lit only by natural light. Lou Lou taught me that whatever we do, we must do it with everything we have – the relentless pursuit of mastery. Every detail matters.
Story Three. Secret Supper Project started several years later, while I was pursuing a career doing investing at Goldman Sachs. It taught me that it is possible to do what you love and create something of value to the world. I went from being a spectator to a participant in life’s processes, and for that I will always be indebted.
This taught me that time, and how we spend it, is the most precious thing we have. To me people matter more than things, and experiences matter more than anything.