Food and cooking is a solid platform for building a fun and deeper understanding of your peers.
When my clients are busy chopping onions and sauteing garlic, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to catch a glimpse of the various shades of company culture. It takes a special kind of leader with unique competencies and skills to successfully build and lead a well oiled team.
When I facilitate team cooking programs, I enjoy watching business leaders engage and have fun with their team. It’s those moments that I see the makings of a high performance group, worth their weight in gold. Sadly on the flip side, there are corporate team leaders not engaged or worse yet, not participating. Trust me, their team notices.
Other than my commitment to deliver on my client’s objective, everyone is on the same level, and no one gets special treatment. The message is simple, if ‘you burn, you learn’.
I’ve always been an entrepreneur since I first made an impressive net profit selling on the street corner of my childhood neighborhood. After that, I realized working for someone else might not be an option. My intuition told me I should try my hand at running my own catering business. However, I didn’t have the courage in my cooking to explore the possibilities. I was out of my comfort zone until I was asked to cook for an upcoming party. It was now or never.
I encourage anyone to give permission to yourself, to take more chances. What the heck! For me, thirty five years later, I’m running a culinary team building business in Vancouver. There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m taking a mental note of what I need to take action on that’s uncomfortable.
When my corporate clients are cooking with their peers, some participants feel intimidated in the kitchen. But in my kitchen, you have no choice. You have to cook. A couple of examples include, one team being tasked to prepare the perfect souffle and the other team to make bread. There was a risk in whether the souffle would rise or fall, but making a concerted effort and being confident in trying is what’s important.
I believe life’s too short. We’re all in charge of our decisions and our actions. We must live and learn by them.
I hope everyone reading this blog, goes out of their comfort zone, as much as possible. You’d be surprised what you can do, if you do it!
1. Everyone knows food. A common playing field
‘I might not know how to make puff pastry but I can cut potatoes and boil water’. ‘Either way I’m not fearful.’
2. No one is the boss
‘While I’m tasked to stand still to watch over my toffee sauce, I depend on my team to make their own decisions.’
3. Open the lines of communication and collaboration
‘Our bread is in the oven. How can we help another team cut onions or do the dishes?’
4. Celebrate Projects
‘We had fun coming together after our all day meetings to cook dinner together.’, ‘Better than sitting in a restaurant.’
5. Team Spirit + Healthy Competition
‘Our team forgot to add the eggs to the cake..Oops. It tasted good regardless. ‘Let’s admit they were better cooks than us.’
6. Critical Thinking + Time Management
‘Should we read through the recipes first? Which should we prepare first? Make the brownies or steam the asparagus? We only have 90 minutes.’
7. Observations on behaviour
‘No secrets in the kitchen. Disorganized..Focused…Empowering?’
8. Building stronger relationships
‘Making scratch pasta with you gave me the chance to get to know you better.’
9. Appreciating and Respecting others’ Skills
‘Thank God you know how to make a roux!’
10.Dealing with change and uncertainty
‘We started making Lemon Mousse and midway we had to move to another station to finish off another teams Butternut Soup.’
11. Develop healthy rapport and trust. Risky?
‘If you think we should make scalloped potatoes instead of garlic mash, I’ll go with the flow. That means changing the recipe asked to produce.’
12. Anything Culinary is fun. Different every time
‘Last year we did an outdoor food scavenger and now we’re teaming up making a four course meal.’
I’ve always thought of a foodie as a person and gourmet as the type of food. Isn’t Gourmand the word for people who love gourmet food?
I’ve had many a debate with friends and colleagues about the definition of a ‘foodie’ or ‘Gourmand?’ I’m fascinated by the wide range of opinions on this subject and enjoy weighing in my thoughts over a glass of reasonably good local wine. So what’s the deal?
Personally, whichever your notion as a foodie, gourmand or otherwise, it comes down to getting excited about your best tasting sausage, gelato or craft beer.
I’m living to eat my patio tomatoes. Weigh in with your story. It’s all good, literally.
Why is the CEO peeling Anjou Pears with the Director of Marketing? Can the Executive Vice President of Human Resources filet Wild Salmon with the programmer in the IT department?
Food is the gateway to the soul and cooking is an expression of how we operate in the world. In the kitchen, it’s an opportunity to take the temperature on how we all bring to the table our own unique self that contributes to the team, or not. Your personality traits show their true colours when the hollandaise breaks or the brandy snaps burn.
What’s the plan now? Are there ways to resolve the outcome? At this juncture, the true test of your team’s group dynamics can affect the bottom line.
Whenever I think of what Valentine’s day means to me, I think of my husband of course, and the many years we’ve been together. We don’t go out for dinner, but rather cook together a romantic spread paired with wine to get the endorphins going. Over the last couple of years, we’ve indulged in an hour of hot yoga as a prelude.
I thought I’d share some of our tantalizing Valentine’s Day Tapas which we prepare to eat and drink as we go. The idea is to keep the preparation simple. We start with shucking a baker’s dozen of local Oysters soaked in a Mignonette Sauce, and slurp it down with a glass of bubbly. What a way to start.
Then we blanch some Asparagus and dip one by one in salted butter paired with a crisp Pinot Gris. Yum!!
Now my ultimate favorite. A smear of artisan BC Goat’s Cheese and a layer of crushed fresh figs topped with crisped prosciutto and a few leaves of lightly dressed arugula on a base of toasted nut bread. I love the complexity of flavor. A dark, bold Pinot Noir will stand up to this savory bite. Forget the calories on this. It’s worth it.
At this point in the evening, we are yearning for a sweet ending. Yes, Strawberries dipped in Dark Callebaut Chocolate. Simple and elegant.
Bon Appetit and Happy Valentine’s Day!