The Same Plate: Bridging Cultural Divides Through Food With Kayla Ferguson

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Food's a great way to get to know people. Stephen Jaye’s guest in this episode is Kayla Ferguson, founder at The Same Plate, an organization that addresses two critical human needs: connecting with others and exposure to new ideas. The organization was built as a result of Kayla’s international travels and experience bridging cultural divides over shared meals. The success of The Same Plate also demonstrates that not all ideas need to be super complicated and highly technological to have a significant impact! Tune in! --- Listen to the podcast here: The Same Plate: Bridging Cultural Divides Through Food With Kayla Ferguson I’m happy to be talking to you about this. Thank you for joining me. How are you doing? All good. I’m convincing myself that I enjoy the seasons. Sometimes you have to make the best of it. I was in Crested Butte where the weather was good. It was sunny and pleasant. There wasn’t enough snow there for a good skiing experience. There were a lot of bare spots. It reminded me that sometimes you need some of the good and some of the bad to make everything flow together. They have to have the dark and the light, the good and the bad, warm and the cold, the sun and the snow. It’s what makes the world function. Tell me about The Same Plate Denver, what experiences people have and what the purpose is. I’ll start by saying how the whole thing got started because that provides some valuable context. I was born and raised in Denver. I love this city, for one. That’s a huge reason why this is a passion project for me. I also went out to California for school. I studied film. I worked in Hollywood for a while. After a couple of years, I decided that wasn’t going to work. I saved up as much as I could which wasn’t much on a Hollywood assistant salary. I bought a plane ticket to Japan. I decided I was going to do a 26-country trip around the world. That was in 2015 and 2016. It straddled those two years. I ended up back in Denver because I ran out of money. I had to move into my parents’ basement. I’m still here. It was about 1.5 to 2 years after getting back that I was not particularly fulfilled by the job that I was doing and wanting to take off on another round the world trip but I didn’t have the time, money or resources. I was sitting at an Indian restaurant one night with my now fiancé, then-boyfriend. It was like a lightbulb moment of you can travel the world through food. I’m not saying that eating at an Indian restaurant in Arvada, Colorado is the same as going to India but it can open you up to that experience and create some intrigue that can push you towards that adventure. I decided I would start putting together dinners for my friends. I pick a different culture every month and invite my friends to dinner. It would be like a gathering thing. We could all talk, eat good food, catch up with each other not over beers at a brewery because I found that it’s a little hard to connect with people in that environment. By the third month of bringing together, I had close to 30 people coming. It was amazing that many people wanted to try the food. I realized that sometimes impeded the conversation people were able to have with each other. That’s when I started thinking about doing more curated experiences with the chef, with some intentional conversation and turning it into a whole ticketed event for people. It grew from there. That’s the quick story. "If everyone adapted that, that their life journey and their life experience makes what they want to share with the world unique, regardless of how common we think it is, I think it would just be magical." First of all, it sounds like an idea that you had a lightbulb moment at that time at the Indian restaurant but also an idea that came to you in a couple of different segments. Tell me about that first experience when you were at an Indian restaurant. Was there something that made you think about this experience?

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