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Close as Kin: The Art of Sharing Food and a Table

By Jeannette Park | July 10, 2012

Outdoor dinner in Austin

Perusing through the pages of a Kinfolk Magazine will transport you to a rustic fairytale of endless summer picnics that taste of freshly bottled honey, warm bread with jam placed upon long wooden family tables that seat up to twenty of your closest hungry friends. Getting swept up in the tranquility of it all is easy, and is precisely what founder Nathan Williams had in mind when he and a group of friends developed their exquisitely designed communal gatherings. We were able to snag a few precious moments with Williams to further explore the manifesto behind Kinfolk and why, more than ever, sharing good food, time and laughter with friends and family is a necessary life fulfillment.

Salmon salting

How did the idea for the magazine come about? What was your inspiration?
The idea of Kinfolk came about in a discussion with friends. We enjoyed getting together and sharing meals, and stories but didn’t feel like there was anything out there to lend inspiration. We literally conceived the idea in the very act of being together, as a way to encourage ourselves and others to spend more time with each other (sans the pretense and stiffness that’s often associated with entertaining).

How did the Kinfolk Dinner Series start?
We saw an opportunity to walk the talk. We wanted to put our mission into action and reach out to local resources, to tap into the mutually benefiting connections and build community. We’ve found the outreach and participation from the communities we visit to be overwhelming and we hope to encourage similar movements to pop up in response.

Strawberries from San Francisco brunch

What’s your best food memory? Perhaps the best meal you ever ate or one dish that always reminds you of something or someone?

Fresh raspberries straight from the bush. My grandma always had so many berries and fruits and vegetables growing. One time I asked her why she continued to tend her garden since she wouldn’t be around to reap all the progress. She responded that she doesn’t do it for herself, but for others to enjoy in the future. I always remember her and this notion when I eat raspberries and remember that food is a way to show we care and to sustain each other.

How do you view the intersection between food and art?
As far as Kinfolk goes, we try to visually create a feeling that would exist in an actual gathering with food and those we love. We want people to experience this emotion as they’re flipping through the images and
stories we share.

Brooklyn dinner

 Is your philosophy on entertaining — simple, uncomplicated, less contrived — a way that you were raised or was it born out of a need to make things simpler?

It’s something I grew to see as an adult, enjoying time with friends over at our home. My wife and I have people over frequently and it didn’t take long to realize that the moments that we remember most are those that are focused on the people and conversation, less distractions, and minimal stress.

What are a few must-haves when you entertain for a group, small or large?
I think our attitude when we are in these situations is important. We must accept that we are going to be present and in the moment with those around us, giving undivided attention to others and really soaking in their company. This is a definite ‘must-have.’ Another would be a sense of humor. When we are in a social situation it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of making things go right and everything running perfectly- but that isn’t reality and when a cup gets knocked over, we need to know how to laugh.

Boating to Kinfolk

Last supper? What would it be, where would you be, and who would it be with?
A salmon feast with my family and close friends. My wife and I met while living near the ocean, we live near the ocean now, and my ideal last meal would be back at sea with those I love.

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