Dining with Donors

Dear Kim:

I had lunch recently with a major donor who I had not met before. She ordered a goat cheese (excuse me, chevre) and arugula salad and cauliflower soup. I was dying to try the hot pastrami, but thought I should match her order so I also got soup and salad. She was clearly a vegetarian and I didn’t want to offend. Was that the right decision? (I was still hungry afterwards.)

~Meat and Potatoes

Dear Potatoes:

When eating with a major donor, (or, in fact, anyone you don’t know very well) your problem is not what to order, but how to have an interesting conversation. This means you cannot focus on food at all. Generally, when I am going to meet a donor for a meal, I eat a little something beforehand. Then whatever I order, I can eat in small bites while focusing my attention on the donor. When eating with donors, you also want to think about how you look when eating certain foods. For example, pasta-my personal favorite food of all time-is not easy to eat daintily. French onion soup or pizza with long stringy cheese is not good. Anything that can get stuck in your teeth-poppy seeds, spinach, fresh ground pepper-is not good. Hot pastrami is probably not good.

You assume your donor is a vegetarian, which she may be, but she could also be on a diet, or recently had a large breakfast. You don’t know, but maybe you could find out during your interesting conversation. During your lunch with the donor, focus on the donor. Take an old friend out to lunch and get the pastrami.

Good luck!

~Kim Klein