Meet the Owner of Kinfood DMV, Kelly Singer

Meet the Owner of Kinfood DMV, Kelly Singer

Hi Kinfood Community,

I moved to the US from France in 2019 with my partner and two kids. Paris is where I fell madly, deeply, passionately in love with …  food.

This letter is all about how Kinfood began.  David Leibowitz said the moment he first felt “Parisian” was when he got dressed up, just to take out the garbage.  For me, it was when I stopped wanting to ask the question, “What do you do [for work]?”. 

Perhaps the ultimate ice breaker in the US, this question will cause your (no longer) potentially cool French friend to look at you like you’re a psychopath and turn to talk with someone else.   Pre-Paris days, I would happily chat about “work” with anyone and everyone, so the idea that Parisians “work to live” and not the other way around, took some getting used to. 

But when I got used to it, there was no going back! 

Even though American culture is very much rooted in consumption and work (hence our need to immediately know what someone does for a living), I deeply believe that many of us want it to be so much more.  

For Americans who are not native to North America, it's a fast separation from our ancestors’ country of origin.  Cultural traditions fade away like sandcastles near a tide, leaving only a vague shape of what used to be.  So, we’re sort of left to figure it out ourselves. What does culture mean in this melting pot of our nation? What connects us?  Is there a common bond beyond the things we buy? These were questions I was longing to answer. 

In France, food comes with rules.   Kids are taught to value food and traditions from birth. 

This was my four-year-old's preschool lunch menu.  
Babies who brunch.  Kids are expected and welcome at the table, and use real silverware.
There’s a time to have coffee, wine, and an afternoon snack.  You eat cheese at the end of the meal, and there are certain recipes to make during certain months.   But perhaps, most importantly, you always eat with people. You join colleagues for un café at 10 am and have dinner out with friends at least once a week.  You pass your butcher, wine seller, cheesemonger, veggie purveyor all the time in your neighborhood.  They know your family and you know theirs.   Food is the connective tissue. 

However, there are two sides to every coin.  The rules (many are actual laws) that govern what it means to be “distinctly French” are rigid and some woefully outdated.  As much as we try to draw neat little boxes around food and claim them as our own, the truth is that food has always been influenced by others and traditions should evolve in step with demographics and psychographics.  

As idealistic as this might sound, I believe that building an inclusive food culture opens the door to feeling a collective connection to a place and its people, to the past, the present, and an openness towards the future.  Perhaps then, greater empathy and love. This is Kinship and the namesake for Kinfood.

These ideas were swirling in my head when we moved to Seattle.  Like Paris, Seattle was abundant in quality food and creative people and I was thinking through what I wanted to do in this new chapter. So just for fun, I started to create local food baskets for friends and neighbors filled with seasonal goods from the farmer's markets plus favorite recipes to go along with them.

Then, March of 2020 arrived. I was consulting and working 75% of the time in San Francisco. One March evening on a flight home, I got an email stating my project would be ending and that I was to be furloughed.   What started as a fun side thing suddenly had an opening to be a full-time venture and I hit the ground running. Each week since then, it’s been our mission to create a weekly delivery of kinship with every bag featuring the people, seasonal veggies, producers, stories, and recipes from our little corner of the world.   

Now Kinfood is on both coasts!  I'm so excited to bring Kinfood to the DMV region and work with the rich and diverse history of food traditions and makers here.  I hope I'll have a chance to bring you some Kinfood!

In kinship,

Kelly Singer

 

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