By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations
Cream-filled malasadas, apple manju, char sui pork manapua, glazed donuts, macadamia nut sticky buns, flying saucers, chili pepper poke, guava cookies, kulolo, cone sushi, haupia, pasteles, lilikoi chiffon pie…mmm. Do we have your attention? Probably, because on Kaua`i, food is where it’s at. And, food in the business arena is no exception.
In our “Kaua`i Insiders Trainings,” which we provide to clients and their employees who are new to the island, one of the first things we do is introduce them to local food and remind them to eat, and bring, local food everywhere they go. Why? Because food exemplifies the melting pot that we are here on Kaua`i. Because food is the solid form of love. Because food is good and everyone likes to eat.
Food can be brought to meetings or the office, given as a gift when you travel or return home (omiyage), presented as prizes or silent auction items, etc. However, being mindful of local-style reciprocation is also important. In other words, if you’ve been sampling someone else’s goodies for a few weeks, be the next one to bring treats to share. Also, match the type of food to the occasion and the recipient. This conveys that you thought about getting something the recipient likes, that is culturally appropriate, and that is in all other ways fitting.
Food communicates appreciation, nurturing, warmth, and friendliness, and around a table with food on it, communion (in the large sense of that word) can happen, which can only be a good thing in any business interaction. Food attracts people to events and to each other (you know the saying about the way to a man’s heart). And though it’s trendy now with the popularity of the Food Network, celebrity chefs, and cookbook sales, food has always been important on Kaua`i and in island business. Just think about how many business deals have been made over pupus after a golf game. Food is powerful PR. (Our next column will be about exercise.)