Food is more than mere sustenance. It’s a become a lifestyle, a daily passion … dare we say an obsession for some. Just click through the television landscape and you realize how much food-related programming has exploded, with stand-and-stir cooking shows expanding into other permutations, from reality shows, to competitions, to (at last count) 11 shows about cake and cupcakes alone. And there are thousands of culinary apps to teach us how to make everything from applesauce to zabaione.
So it stands to reason that the hottest corporate team-building trend in America surrounds the culinary arts, including classes, challenges, tours and dining events that brings together employees to learn and work as a team. Gathering together around a meal is a universal custom that connects people from all backgrounds and cultures and dny activity centered on food is going to naturally be a socially engaging experience.
Following are some ideas for some engaging culinary team-building events:
‘Iron Chef’ Challenge
Modeled after the popular TV series, a cooking challenge requires a few culinary skills and a few secret ingredients to keep your group collaborating, communicating and cooking together.
Divide the group into teams and the “chairman” will brief the group on event instructions and guidelines. Teams receive all the supplies needed to ensure culinary success, including herbs, spices, condiments, pantry items and the secret ingredient of the day. The “kitchen stadium” includes cooking equipment. Teams must be able to communicate with one another, delegate tasks and practice their time management to ensure their meals are ready on time. Prepare a judging panel to score the creations.
Dining In The Dark
This idea takes a standard group meal to a whole new level. The concept of dining in the dark originated in Europe and since has traveled the world. It becomes a true exploration in dining as guests discover a whole new feast for their senses. Group members interact with each other and share what they are experiencing and how they feel. It’s an entertaining eating experience as the host engages participants about their theories on what they are tasting. The idea is that, with the dominant sense of sight on hold, the remaining senses heighten, allowing guests to experience smells, tastes and sounds like never before.
Winery Team Challenge
Start this team activity with an informative wine tasting and end it with an entertaining and competitive sangria making and marketing challenge. A local sommelier can lead the way, giving participants a brief, interactive and fun introduction to wine, before leading the group in a white and red wine tasting.
After the tasting, divide into teams and each group starts their own winery. Teams are briefed about the interesting history of sangria, and then take part in creating their own blends. Then teams develop a name, design a winery logo and label, and decorate their team aprons and tables for the final judging. They can also write and perform a jingle or commercial to sell their product to the judges.
Group members can cook with a cause during a team-bonding experience that is both fun and meaningful. This challenge includes food prepared and consumed by the participants during the event and a subsequent donation to area food banks.
To help your group better comprehend the issues of hunger and homelessness, the day can begin with a brief quiz on the subject. Participants will work in teams to answer questions that the facilitators will review and then discuss as a group.
Plan a cooking competition that includes appetizers consumed by participants, as well as preparation of hot food that will be donated to a local soup kitchen. Teams will compete to see who prepares the best dish in the eyes of culinary judges. Add a food-bag donation element to the day that involves participants taking a reusable tote bag, decorating it and stuffing it with food. Included in each bag is a personal letter to the family in need.