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  • Shems Ghali

Some food for thought - how food can tell personal stories

Storytelling isn’t just fundamental to writers or filmmakers; it is the bedrock of human communication. It’s how we create meaningful connections with people. I was reminded of this on a recent trip to ‘Restaurant Story’ in London....

Storytelling is at the heart of great Qualitative research. We create spaces and environments which enable humans to tell us their stories when we’re in field. A compelling story is the best, most effective way to ensure our insights land in the debrief. Consuming stories delivered in different ways, and thinking about how they make us feel, can only make us better researchers.

Between mouthfuls of Michelin starred deliciousness I picked up three aspects of storytelling that made the whole experience richer and more meaningful. All potentially applicable to the work we do at One Minute To Midnight;

1. Deeper experiences

Each course was introduced with the story behind it. This added another layer to the eating experience. There were also tips on how best to enjoy some dishes, further enhancing the overall experience. As researchers, we need to ensure that we’re not just giving clients the right ingredients but also enable them to get the best of them.

2. Human connections

The stories behind the dishes were often personal, pulling on important moments from the chefs’ pasts. As our Founding Partner Doug always says, “we’re all narcissists”, as such we all understand the experiences of others most clearly if they’re presented in relation to our own. Hearing the personal stories from the chefs’ childhoods, finding connections with our own but also points of difference, enabled us to connect more deeply with the experience.

3. Broadened horizons

There’s no menu at Restaurant Story, they simply ask if there is any specific food we don't like or have any allergies. I tried ingredients and combinations that I’d never have even thought to try before. Being introduced to these new ideas through storytelling meant that they felt more accessible. I was more confident engaging with them and was able to make sense of them more easily because I could connect with the story

Obviously what took me to Restaurant Story was the food (and a family celebration of my brother’s 21st) but it was also interesting to reflect on the whole experience with my ‘researcher hat on’. One of the great (and sometimes exhausting) things about working in human insight is that it’s everywhere, we’re never really not working.

Speak soon,

Shems - Research Executive

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