Till early 2020, I had worked in restaurants for over 10 years. Watching my beloved industry struggle without targeted aid from the government continues to be harrowing. Yet even despite experiencing their own pain, we saw countless chefs and restaurateurs open their doors to their communities, to continue to feed and care for others in whatever way they could.
My father, an 68 year old Emergency Room physician, gave me some great advice early on as I was panicking about him continuing to work in the ER, and my friends struggling at their jobs and… literally everything. He told me that all we could do was what we were meant to do. “So just do it, Sarah.”
All around me, all year, I watched people live that advice. I watched people pivot, innovate, make sacrifices, and help each other. I watched my own team do the same. As often as I was sad and fearful about what was going on around me, I was inspired by the sheer resilience that shone as a response.
Bringing Kalamata to life has been our mission for a few years now, but this year it felt like the world really needed her. As we experience this long-overdue social justice and racial reckoning, I think about what it means for kids to see themselves as heroes. To see others who don’t look like themselves as heroes. And for all of us to look out in the world and find heroes everywhere, every day.
There are things for which I am extremely grateful. I’m grateful for the team we’ve built, and for the work we were able to continue to do this year, despite much of it being unplanned and unanticipated. I’m grateful for the people who have supported us from the beginning, and the people who joined us on our mission this year. I’m grateful that we have all, in the immortal words of Mr. Rogers, learned to look for the helpers in difficult situations, and I’m grateful that we are all more likely to see those helpers as heroes these days.
Our team at Kalamata’s Kitchen is committed to being the best helpers that we can be for kids and families everywhere, and i’m proud of what we were able to accomplish together, and with all of you, this past year. Some highlights, for the cookbooks:
We Shared Our Stories
We watched author Sarah Thomas read Kalamata's first three adventure books and we learned how to draw some of Kalamata's favorite scenes with Jo Edwards. See them all here!
We Told Others' Stories
Our story snacks highlighted chefs and restaurant owners from across the country, in their words. We helped them tell the stories of their food, their traditions and their lives. We also gave a platform to restaurant workers who were impacted by COVID-19. Amplifying others' voices is a great way to share what's on your plate.
We Went on Adventures
The year started off with an adventurous spirit as we traveled with our Taste Buds to the North Market in Columbus, OH and the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry in Charleston, SC, to host events that helped kids learn about new cultures and people through the magic of food.
We Made Great Friends
We partnered with Chobani to create activities for families to explore food together. We worked with La Boite to create the most scrumptious biscuit boxes and spice mixes. We also announced partnerships with Imagine Kids + Family and wrote a new book with Random House Children’s Books.
We Shared What's on our Plate
We believe a dash of compassion and a splash of joy can go a long way. That's why we worked with some amazing partners this year to give back. We launched #Give15 with random acts of happiness every day for 15 days. And, with your help, we donated to No Kid Hungry, City Harvest, World Central Kitchen, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Full Plates, Full Potential, the Restaurant Workers Relief Program, Farm to Families, Rethink Food, and the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation. It was a year for giving back and giving hope.
We Had Some Fun
This year, we were busy in the kitchen cooking up all sorts of new products and activities for our Taste Buds. Our new shirts and aprons helped Taste Buds wear their love for Kalamata and her friends. Our Food Adventure Passports, digital activities, matching games and Food Adventure Box helped families go on delicious Food Adventures together.
We Set the Table for New Adventures
We finished selling our old books to make room on our shelves for our next adventure! Kalamata launched a book with Random House Children’s Books and we couldn't be more excited. Pre-order yours today!
There were delicious highs and some bitter lows, but we're so glad to have you in the kitchen with us as we move forward into a fresh new year.