Winston Churchill’s Dinner Table Policies

Photo: Associated Press via The Washington Post

Photo: Associated Press via The Washington Post

Before the power lunch became a buzzword in the business world, Winston Churchill maximized the meaning of a working meal. In her new book Dinner with Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table, Cita Stelzer describes the legendary British prime minister’s intriguing relationship with food and drink.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Churchill had extremely exacting standards at the table. He once told White House chief butler Alonzo Fields during a visit a few weeks after Pearl Harbor: “I must have a tumbler of sherry in my room before breakfast. A couple of glasses of scotch and soda before lunch, and French champagne and 90-year-old brandy before I go to sleep at night.”

Still, there was a method to his predilections. Some of his best work was done post-dinner, sometimes with a movie playing, when he’d roll up his sleeves and work until the early morning. Stelzer explains, “Churchill felt that he could do more selling his goals and his purposes at the dinner table face-to-face.”

The design of his round dining table reflected this sense of dinner with purpose—”he wanted nobody at the head.” It was a concerted effort on his part to have everyone “share equally in the conversation.” He understood the power of food and drink in setting people at ease so that they “could not talk socially, but talk more openly and freely as friends and allies.”

[via Denver Post]

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