Sitting down at the table for a meal that has been prepared – or simply gathered – with love is one of life’s most cherished rituals. The interaction that happens within a family as they share food and conversation can be mundane or profound. It can even be both in the span of one meal.
In the world of social media, Isabel Laessig – wife, mother, blogger, entrepreneur, and Cabot Cheese Board member – is known as the Family Foodie. She has made it her mission to promote the benefits of getting together around the dinner table. To that end she founded The Sunday Supper Movement, an online community whose mission is to bring back the tradition of Sunday Supper for families everywhere.
Isabel’s close-knit family is what inspires her drive and passion. When her oldest child went off to college, Isabel realized that what she would miss most is the time they spent around the dinner table. Her blog, Family Foodie, was created as a result of this small but significant event and born out of her conviction that sharing meals together promotes healthy families.
“Sunday Supper often starts off as one day a week but soon becomes a way of life,” says Isabel. “We strive to create a better future for families, by partnering with brands and services that help families feel good, eat better, and interact with each other. We want our mission to reach the homes of all families and inspire people across the world to spend time around the family table.”
Sit down for #family time w #SundaySupper! @familyfoodie talks @SundaySupperFam movement on the @cabotcheese blog: http://ow.ly/JHnDo
It didn’t take long for Isabel to realize that if she wanted to spread the word about the benefits of families sharing meals together, she would need a little help from her friends. The Sunday Supper Movement began in 2012 with eight bloggers getting together for a fun progressive dinner. They shared their recipes online and continued their conversations long after the get-together. They decided that they wanted to continue the concept online, where more people could join in the community and conversation.
Since that time the Sunday Supper community of bloggers has grown. They now have an international membership and reach from two to three million followers every week. The hashtag #sundaysupper is ubiquitous on social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.
As if this wasn’t exciting enough, another inspiring and far-reaching event has come out of the Sunday Supper Movement. In 2013 the inaugural Food and Wine Conference was held in Orlando, Florida. More than 200 people gathered to celebrate the spirit of food and community. Bloggers, small business owners, winemakers, chefs, public relations professionals, traditional media, new media, authors, and brands met IRL (in real life) to exchange ideas, sample great food and fabulous wines, talk about future food trends, cook, learn, and grow. Planning for the third Food and Wine Conference is already well underway. This exciting event will once again be held at the sumptuous Rosen Shingle Creek Resort July 17 – 19, 2015. For the second year in a row, the farm families who own Cabot are excited to sponsor this event and support the philosophy of the Sunday Supper Movement.
“We are really looking forward to this year’s Food and Wine Conference. We have an amazing event planned and are thrilled to bring together our family of bloggers with the wonderful brands that support our mission,” says Isabel. “It is such a rewarding opportunity to spend time around the family table and take our businesses to the next level.”
We chatted with Isabel about her journey from stay-at-home mom to a new media business entrepreneur and asked her a few questions.
What is the one thing that inspires you most in life?
My children. I wrote my first blog post when my daughter left for college. I never imagined that it would be a beginning to this journey. My four children have been my biggest cheerleaders every step of the journey.
I was so nervous at the beginning of the first Food and Wine Conference and I will never forget looking out at them and the look on their faces. It was a role reversal. They gave me the courage that I needed to speak to a crowd. They truly inspire me every day.
What does your family think about your success? How has it affected their lives?
They are so proud of me and give me the courage to keep on going. My daughter works with me virtually from college. She does all my photo editing and helps plan and budget for the Food and Wine Conference. When she started interviewing for internships in her finance major, she was so surprised that everyone wanted to hear about her role in her mother’s business. They loved that she understood blogging and what it takes to start a business.
One of the many perks of the job that my family appreciates are trips sponsored by brands we work with. My kids are always amazed at the fabulous places that we get to stay because of my business. It has been a rewarding experience for all six of us and a great way to involve the whole family in my work.
How often do you eat together as a family? What are the favorite topics of conversation?
We very rarely miss Sunday Supper together. We are a huge football family and look forward Football Sunday Supper in family room during football season. It is all about being together and enjoying each other.
My husband is a football coach, the boys all played football and basketball, and my daughter was a cheerleader and dancer. Like most families we sometimes struggle with a sit-down dinner every night of the week but average for us is three to four times a week.
Sports, of course, are always a topic of conversation but we love to laugh around our family table. Many times our conversations are about funny things that happened at school and there is always someone picking on someone else around our table.
What is the Family Foodie’s favorite family meal?
There’s this one chicken dish we all love that we call Ronnie’s (my husband) Favorite Chicken. Friends come over and they will ask if we are serving “Ronnie’s Chicken.” It is a true favorite and we served it at last year’s Food and Wine Conference. We wanted to share it with the Sunday Supper family. It was a huge hit!
Most Cabot families work and eat together every day, so we loved learning about the Sunday Supper Movement when we first started following the Family Foodie. Isabel’s philosophy meshes perfectly with the values that Cabot’s farm families hold dear.
Here are some of our farmers’ favorite family dishes. They’re all easy to prepare, loaded with nutritious ingredients, and they’re totally delicious. What more could you ask for?
This yummy chili recipe from Cabot farmer Andrew Worthen is loaded with chicken and fresh veggies. It’s great year round, but it’s especially good when the vegetables come straight from the garden. It’s a Worthen family favorite. We bet your family will love it too.
This Tomato-Cheddar Soup recipe is one of the most popular on the Cabot website. It’s easy to prepare and goes great with a simple grilled cheese. Sometimes the best family dinners can be as uncomplicated as soup and a sandwich. Throw in a salad and you got all your bases covered!
Take an American classic – and family favorite – to a new level with this recipe for Grown Up Macaroni & Cheese with Butternut Squash. Your family will love the cheesy goodness and you’ll feel good about adding veggies to the mix.
Sunday brunch is an ideal way to gather the family around the table and this colorful, delicious Spinach, Artichoke, Sausage and Egg Strata casserole is the perfect way to get them there. It’s easy to prepare and you can make it the night before and just pop it in the oven before serving, so you won’t be stuck in the kitchen.
What would Sunday Supper be without dessert and what could be a better dessert than Apple Pie with a slice of Cheddar. Because, as we say in New England: “Apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.”
Candace Karu reports on all there is to discover and love about food and farming as well as communicating Cabot’s mission to support community, volunteerism, and sustainability. Whether online, on air, or in person, her job is to amplify the passion and commitment of the 1200 farm families who own Cabot. When Candace is not representing Cabot, she lives, cooks, and works out in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.