At the Front Street Community Oven in downtown Wolfville, two Firemasters stand beside the crackling fire. A doughy, cheesy creation is slid onto the hot stone hearth in a single, smooth motion.

The surrounding air is crisp, carrying the scent of sweet fall leaves and hinting at the scent of the coming cool winter. A family is seated nearby, waiting in quiet anticipation for their fresh, fire-baked pizza. They continue to munch on leftover toppings, silently observing the glow of the coals while their dinner transforms before their eyes. 

The fire dances as it melts the cheese and bakes the dough, and time stops for a moment or two.

The common family dynamics of arguing and judging each other have paused. Criticism of the outcome of the raw food creations ceases. The perfectionist tendency of the process fades away, being replaced by the acts of observing, noticing, salivating, and dreaming.

After the first bites have been taken, the smoky, blended flavours inspire and move everyone into cheerful, lively collaboration.

It is as if the risen dough and melted cheese usher the trivial problems and judgements away.  

New possibilities are explored through working the dough, kneading something special into the hearts and minds of the creators, through this experience they’ve shared together.

This is the community-building magic of food and collaboration.

This is the power of cheese.

When was the last time you enjoyed a transformative experience with food? How did it shift the dynamics in you, your family or the group you were in?