January 29, 2019

Food for Thought

Hospitality is a unique form of art in that audience members are the performers, and the enjoyment comes from performing. The artist sets the structure within which the members perform. What happens is not predictable but would not happen without the artist. It’s similar to Jazz improvisation where the performers create the music within the structure the composer sets.

During our dinner conversation, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs came up. I can’t remember why it came up but we can use it here to analyze hospitality as art.

t the bottom of the pyramid are “physiological needs,” like room temperature, noise level, comfortable furniture, functional bathroom, access to food and water, etc.. The next level is “safety”; not only physical safety is but also emotional and psychological safety. We are all aware of these two levels when we host any type of events, but for hospitality to move into the realm of art, we need to go beyond them.

The third level is “love/belonging”; you as a host have to make sure that everyone feels welcomed. Restaurants and hotels include this level.

The fourth level is “esteem,” that is, mutual respect. From here, restaurants and hotels have no control because it involves how the audience members treat one another. If you are hosting a dinner party at home, you can control it to some degree by choosing a specific combination of people. However, often there are people who do not get along well or feel like outsiders. There are also people who are interested only in talking not listening. Mutual respect cannot be established in these cases.

The final level is “self-actualization.” In the context of hospitality, this means being yourself, to be able to offer your full potential. Being respectful to others does not necessarily mean being yourself. At this level of hospitality, everyone respects each other for who they are.

In my experience, hospitality that achieves this final level is rare, but some are definitely better than others in making it happen.

Thank you @springmanstefan @zopiii @yoonhwaj for the fifth level hospitality.

#hospitality #maslow #hierarchyofneeds #dinnerparty #nycfoodie #entertaining