Not one soul bravely put a raw turkey over their head and danced like Matt LeBlanc did on “Friends” during the “The One with all the Thanksgivings” episode, but attendees at a Friendsgiving shared laughs and exchanged stories.
Business owners Christine Chamoun, of Dory’s Mediterranean Grill, and April Kristin Collison, of Grazing Affair, invited people to Dory’s for a Friendsgiving feast on Nov. 21. The hope of the complimentary affair was to create new bonds and strengthen old ones over a collective love of food.
The event, Chamoun said, was a way for the duo to showcase and meet some of the 20-plus female business owners in Medford. Owners of Mystical Blossoms, Girlfriends on Main and others donated items to a gift basket that went to a lucky winner.
“We were both at the Woman’s Club of Medford [recently], and they had a Women in Business Night where they invited a lot of different local women business owners, and you’d be surprised at how many business there are,” Chamoun said.
As many dove into the creative samplings the two put together – with the help of Chamoun’s husband Dory – they began to have conversations with one another about a Lebanese side dish they never had and the different fruits and vegetables Collison brought.
“My business is really social dining and getting people to gather around a table or board and talk about the food and maybe become friends over a weird grain that you got or whatever it is,” Collison said.
Chamoun, who is Italian, Irish, French and German, expanded on this sentiment, stating the social aspect of eating with friends, family or strangers is a commonality in the Lebanese culture. She added the Friendsgiving event helps spread that message and can make a community stronger.
“This is about eating, but it’s also about friends and fun,” she added before the start of the feast. “We have some selfie props and we’re ready to meet people and have fun with them. I think that’s what both of us are about.”
Occasions such as Friendsgiving, Collison said, help inform people about what stores, restaurants and other “Mom and Pop” shops exist in Medford, and the collaborations can help strengthen the community as a whole.
“A lot of people don’t know that Dory’s is here and they don’t always know about Grazing Affair and it’s pulling together my following and Dory’s following,” Collison said, “and I think it’s good for the community.”
In an area where some might believe is homogenous in its residents, dishes at the event helped the hostesses showcase their cultures in hopes of having people develop a new favorite dish.
“I’m excited for them to be able to taste things like chocolate hummus – it’s a trendy twist on a classic,” Chamoun added. “It’s fun to try something new.”
With the biggest holiday in November coming and going, the two dished on what will be a part of their own Thanksgiving tables.
“Lasagna,” Collison exclaimed. “At all holidays, we have to have an Italian dish and Thanksgiving is so different for us. We do have a turkey, but it’s like ‘Alright, who’s making the lasagna?’”
“Our salad is different than the typical American Thanksgiving salad,” Chamoun explained. “It’s a Lebanese Salad that has cucumbers, tomatoes, mint, garlic, lemon and olive oil.”
There are hopes between the two women to make Friendsgiving a yearly celebration, and to bring in more owners in Medford to not only promote the female-owned businesses, but to help the community bond.
“What’s amazing about women when they come together is it’s almost like a powerhouse that happens with creativity,” Chamoun said. “Something like this that didn’t exist before, and we teamed up to create something unique.“