Let's make dinner!
Cooking shows are hugely popular – so much so that there are TWO American cable channels devoted to food and cooking. From Top Chef to Iron Chef to America’s Next Great Restaurant, it seems you can always find a commercial kitchen on TV. Chefs are the new reality stars.
So how can you use the popularity of food and cooking to make your event more exciting? Themed dinners and closing night celebration banquets are common ways to incorporate food into an event. But if you want to avoid a “been there, done that” reaction and are looking to kick interactivity up a notch, how about having your attendees make their own dinner?
At Q Center, we recently hosted leadership training for 35 attendees from the bakery division of Kraft Foods. Meeting host, Steve Kunkle, was looking for a fun way to reinforce the concepts taught in the session, while building camaraderie among the attendees. Our Assistant Director of Catering, Christi Christides, worked with the Kraft team to “cook up” a great culinary team building event that helped accomplish just that. Together, they wove in opportunities for attendees to practice planning, time management, delegation and organizational skills while preparing that evening’s meal.
On event day, they divided the group into 5 teams and assigned a recipe to each team. Our creative culinary team had developed the recipes, incorporating Kraft-brand products wherever possible. Everyone suited up in aprons and chef hats while getting some final instructions from our Executive Chef, Francois Sanchez. Timers were set for 30 minutes, and the teams got to work.
Chefs were available for questions and facilitators circulated among participants, challenging them to use their newly-honed leadership skills. The prepared dishes were whisked off to the kitchen to finish cooking while the meeting host led a team building debrief session. He encouraged participants to assess their performance as leaders, both during the activity and on the job. Finally, each team presented their dish for the rest of the group to enjoy as part of that evening’s dinner.
Culinary team building events come in many forms – from leisurely and fun to intense and competitive. Some examples we've tried at Q include build-your-own pizza, culinary relays, cupcake decorating competitions and an Italian dinner event – complete with Mama offering her critique! All are designed to enhance team spirit and build on everyone’s enthusiasm for all things culinary.
We’d love to hear what others are doing to incorporate food and culinary team building into their events. Let us know by adding your comments to this post.
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