You get a call from a company that wants to develop a wellness program involving a dietitian. You need an idea for a fun, hands-on activity that will engage a department of 24 people. Why not offer a culinary team-building event?
Corporate culinary team building gathers groups of people together to cook. Groups can vary from a single local department to an international leadership team with attendees from all over the world. The point is to get people working together under one roof.
These events can help groups improve communication skills, connections with each other, collaboration, acquired cooking skills, and creativity. The ultimate goal is to have these facets of teamwork transfer from the kitchen back into the workplace. The following five skills are most often developed in culinary team-building programs:
- Communication: Teams are invited to read the recipe they’re working on together, gather all ingredients and cooking materials, and then enjoy the process of prepping foods and cooking together. Effective communication to make sure these tasks are done properly is key.
- Connection: Connecting outside of work encourages a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Attendees have a great time socializing and getting to know each other as people away from the office.
- Collaboration: A recipe demands working together. Everyone partakes to produce a final meal—from cutting, chopping, and grating to mixing, cooking, and presenting. Teamwork is a must for a recipe to come out well.
- Cooking Skills: Attendees gain knowledge about cooking skills; this could involve learning how to mince garlic, dice tomatoes, or zest a lemon, or a more complicated task such as roasting vegetables or searing beef. Be sure to include knife safety demos and a food safety introduction. Participants also learn from each other. Some attendees have never picked up a wooden spoon; on the other hand, others might be trained chefs.
- Creativity: Taking fresh, whole ingredients in their raw form and creating a full sit-down lunch or dinner is a creative process, from the cooking itself to food presentation and plating. Attendees enjoy the creativity involved in transforming delicious fresh ingredients into beautiful, tasty meals.
The cooking process also varies. Teams can create one recipe together or prepare a complete menu. This could include, for example, a seasonal lemon-basil goat cheese salad, a main dish such as chicken with white wine and capers, a side or a grain such as a quinoa salad, and a dessert like decadent brownies and ice cream. After cooking for an hour to an hour and a half, the events always include plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of their labor together.
Developing a team-building event is no easy task. It requires organization, contracts, phone calls, food shopping, recipe development, and preparation. That being said, RDs are perfectly trained to create and lead culinary team-building events. If you like people and group work, enjoy the cooking process, and are highly organized and able to think fast on your feet, corporate culinary team-building is a great addition to your services. And they won’t be a hard sell; corporations love them.
Laura M. from Vanguard International says, “This is our most highly rated event every year. This year, we loved having the culinary team building with a smaller group than usual because it’s an international group and this team-building event allowed for more meaningful conversations. Our teams rave about it!”
Susan T. from Medecision says, “This is our third year cooking together. It is a highly anticipated event, which beautifully helps introduce our new teams to our company. ”
— Emma Fogt, MBA, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, started culinary team building in 2009. Her clients include pharmaceutical companies, technology companies, financial firms, insurance companies, marketing companies, law firms, universities, and nonprofit organizations.