Eat family style
At TEDxSydney 2014, food curator Jill Dupleix wanted to make sure that not only the day’s meal tasted great, but also that it assisted in the mission of ideas worth spreading. To do this, she arranged for lunch to be served in big portions on extra long tables, a set-up designed to encourage conversation and connections between attendees. “The TEDxSydney tables will be a place to join up, break bread and share ideas in one big communal celebration,” she wrote in a blog post prior to the event. “Food has the power to bring people together, and good things always come from that.”
Bring your own plates
For their 2010 event, the team at TEDxHomer in Homer, Alaska organized a lunchtime community potluck and asked attendees to cut down on water and energy use at the meal by bringing their own plates, utensils, and cups and then washing them at home. To showcase the diverse cornucopia of cutlery and tableware, the team placed all tables together in the shape of a giant X.
Get local with snack samples
The morning break at TEDxBaltimore 2014 was filled with food samples from five “Food Pioneers” from the community, keeping with the event’s theme, “O, Pioneers.” Products included chèvre from a local goat farmer; beef jerky made by a local Highland beef cattleman; and chow-chow and Kimchi from one of Baltimore’s farm-to-table restaurants. “It was an unusual and interactive experience for the audience to savor,” said coordinator Martha Lucius. “Each purveyor served 500 samples, on trays, moving amongst the crowd to ensure flow and interaction. In total, 2,500 samples for 800 people were served from 10:45 to 11:30.”
Longer lunch = better conversation
After hosting several TEDx events, one thing that TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now TEDxMtHood) organizer Michelle Jones noticed was that lunch takes up a lot of time. So she decided to find a way to make that time meaningful. For their 2014 event, she and her team allowed for a longer lunch break — 90 minutes — which, she said, put less pressure on people to rush through the meal and allowed for longer, more substantive conversations. “It seems [attendees] felt more rested and had more success at building connections with other attendees as a result of this change in schedule,” she said.
Make it a game
At TEDxVilnius’s 2014 event, each attendee was given a “lunch tag” on their badge, and had to collect four tags from other attendees in order to form a group and receive their lunches. “It was so unbelievably successful, all attendees were super happy,” said organizer Ruta Kruliauskaite.