A firsthand account from Steve on reaffirming starrdesign’s mission internationally and the magic that makes food more than just a physical necessity.

A recent, amazing trip to Israel reaffirmed what I believe to not only be the heartbeat behind starrdesign, but also a critical element of our society.  We were on a short tour of the old port city of Jaffa, immediately adjacent to the new, technology-driven city of Tel Aviv.  The young woman leading the tour showed clear dedication to cross-culturalism.  It was fascinating to see this city uphold one ancient tradition in particular – Muslims, Jews, Christians and many other faiths all living and working together.

The tour ended with lunch in an Israeli Arab woman’s apartment; a one-hour highlight that will last a lifetime.  Shirene and her two daughters welcomed us into their home for wonderful food they’d prepared and were exceptional hosts the entire time.  While eating a classic Arabic meal that could easily have fed an army, we talked about Shirene’s life and experiences as an Israeli Arab woman.

The pivotal, affirming point came when one of our small group members asked Shirene why she opens her house to strangers and cooks for them.  She explained that there aren’t a lot of options for Arab women to work in the Middle East, even in Israel, and she and her husband want to provide every opportunity for their two daughters to have the best in life.  She also explained that she believes in the almost magical characteristic of sharing food with others to bring them together on a human level, regardless of their religious, social, economic, political or other cultural differences.

Wow.

Sitting across the globe, Shirene had reaffirmed why I believe starrdesign’s mission is so important in today’s society.  Food and restaurants are unique in that they are, and always have been, focal points that encourage people to gather, socialize and connect at a personal level.  We believe that by designing restaurants to reinforce social connection, we can begin to make a difference in our world.  Shirene may be on track to bringing peace to the Middle East, and we might be able to help alleviate the ever-increasing feelings of loneliness and isolation in today’s society- all by connecting people over a great meal.