Eatwith Hosts Clare and Panisha to open up their reflection on gratitude and blessings in honor of Thanksgiving Day. 

This year, we’ve chosen to do things a little differently.

As a company and as a team, we’re trying to grow into something bigger, more beautiful, and more sustainable. That happens through putting our guests and our hosts first and standing up for what we believe in. 

We believe in people, we believe in giving each other a helping hand, and we believe in becoming more engaged and responsible, one day at a time.

“Eatwith is about connecting people who want to be connected. The food is the vehicle, the context for the encounter” 

Host F in Paris, 3 years hosting on Eatwith

And in one of those small first steps, we’d love to take our time to say thanks to all the incredible hosts who have joined the Eatwith community over the years, putting their heart and talent into every single dish they serve and taking the time to tell their incredible stories. With Thanksgiving is right around the corner, two of our wonderful hosts – Host Clare in New York, United States and Host Panisha in Manchester, United Kingdom have decided to open up their hearts and share with us about things that they are grateful for this special holiday.

Q: Tell us about your roots: Where do you come from and which countries do you feel a special connection to?

Host Panisha: Hi my name is Panisha. I’m British Asian; born and brought up in South West England. I come from a very foodie family with there frequently being too many cooks in the kitchen at our house!

My sister and I grew up helping our parents cook in the kitchen from a young age, and we were exposed to lots of different cuisines from around the world. From making our own homemade pizzas from scratch, to my parents taking Chinese cookery lessons to make our own Chinese takeaway dishes at home. This love of world food has been carried on through my food. I love learning about food and traditions and cultures from around the world, and sometimes putting my own twist on them. My Indian heritage greatly influences my cooking; a spice pot is never far away from my dishes!

I have two big loves in my life; food and nursing. I am a trained children’s nurse, currently working in Greater Manchester. I love my job, working with children and their families is an amazingly rewarding experience. Alongside this my love of food and cookery does not take a back seat. In 2019 I became a MasterChef semi finalist and my love of cooking really took off. 

Q: How is Thanksgiving special to you?

Host Clare: It’s all about the food, the family and friends for me. I love being with my family at this time, my children and my grandchildren. I love making the dishes my mother used to make and passing those recipes down to my children and grandchildren. I love that people from other countries are interested in our traditions and actually want to experience a real typical New York Thanksgiving with my family (including all the crazy characters that every family seems to have). 

I love that I can use the dishes my mother gave me and the two silly turkey candles I bought for the first dinner I prepared many years ago. I have a folder now that I use each Thanksgiving with all the recipes. I have it down to a science including a shopping list for the supermarket that is all dog eared and falling apart now but it is something t I can’t replace.

Q: What does hosting mean to you? And how does it make you feel?

Host Panisha: After being a part of MasterChef in 2019, one big thing that I took away from the experience is my passion for cooking for people. I always enjoyed cooking for my housemates at university, but never imagined taking this to a professional level. My first supper club completely changed this for me. Being able to share my food and culinary ideas with people, and have them enjoy it, is one of the most amazing feelings I can describe. The rush of getting dishes out on time and seeing the final products go out to diners is exhilarating. Before the event has finished I’m already thinking about the next one!

Q: Do your dishes, your menus, your experiences tell a story? What do you try to share with your guests?

Host Panisha: With every menu or dish that I create, I always think about the history and background of the food. A lot of my fusion dishes come from an amalgamation of dishes or tastes that I particularly like, and I try to see if they work together. It’s a process of experimentation but the end results are worth it.

It’s so important to me that when I cook food from other countries and cultures, that I try to learn and understand the dishes and the countries that they originate from. With any of my themed events, I try to share this with my guests. One of my supper clubs; ‘Piccante’ featured a culinary tour through Italy from North to South. Each course featured a dish or style of food from a particular region in Italy; from ‘Cicheti’ from Veneto, to cannolis from Sicily. The menu told a story of the variety of food from one nation rich in culinary history. I like my events to have the same type of atmosphere as in my kitchen; fun, casual and always with a glass of wine and conversation at hand. 

Q: How would you describe the guests you’ve hosted?

Host Clare: Eatwith has given me the opportunity to share this special time with people from all over the world. When I think of Eatwith, I think of all the ways people can get together to share their cultures and traditions.

My Eatwith dinners on this holiday have always provided a richer experience for everyone. I remember one year we had people from France, Italy, Germany, Florida (originally from Cuba), family from New Jersey (originally from Argentina), and family from New York. Somehow we all communicated and by the end of the evening we were a new family. We all spoke different languages but we managed to laugh and tell stories.

I am still in touch with many of my guests. One from Italy contacted me just last week to say he was going to prepare his own Thanksgiving dinner and could he have some of my recipes. Imagine that! The people who came from France recommended my dinner to friends of theirs who then came to dinner the following year. Another one asked for my mother’s sweet potato recipe which I then wrote down in French as she spoke no English. It was one of those recipes I just had in my head. There was a couple who came from Reims, France one year and now I visit with them every year when I am in France. We have remained part of each other’s lives. And I could go on and on forever. 

Sadly, I had to postpone my Thanksgiving dinner this year because of the pandemic. I will share a dinner with my family on Zoom and we will be thankful that we are all healthy and able to do that. I  will plan a real Thanksgiving dinner, bigger and better than ever, as soon as we can all get together safely and I hope there will be guests from all over the world again.

Giving thanks can be done at any time.

Visit Host Panisha’s profile here and follow this link to see Host Clare’s dining experience.