Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Team Building in the Kitchen

A great deal of interest over the past few years has been given to team building. In this troubled economy it is more important than ever. The work force at companies has been greatly decreased making efficiency of the utmost importance. Companies are pinching every penny and trying to get the most out of every cent. Some offices send their employees on obstacle courses, climbing ropes, and pelting each other with paintballs. Perhaps dinner and a bottle of wine, might be more conducive to building positive employee relationships.

Cooking is one of the finest methods for team building. In the 1800's Auguste Escoffier, the Father of Modern Cuisine, instituted the brigade system. It served to eliminate the chaos that could result when workers did not have clear cut responsibilities. This system, in one form or another, is still used today. Each member of the team has a job to do and each builds on the preceding until the final products are deemed acceptable by the chef. If one member of the team fails in his responsibility, the entire project can go down in flames – literally.

We have seen coworkers who barely spoke on arrival learn everything about each other from childhood memories to favorite colors and of course favorite foods. Employees are teamed up and given various recipes and a limited amount of time to complete the menu. Another method is the "mystery box". Teams are given ingredients with NO recipes and told to make a dish or two. That is QUITE entertaining! You really find out who can and can't cook. We've seen some quite imaginative and tasty dishes - and some that weren't...

One of our most popular menus is Blue Cheese Chopped Salad, Balsamic Chicken with Tomatoes and Wild Mushrooms, Meatballs in a Burgundy Brown Sauce, Baked Asparagus Parmesan, Potatoes Romanoff, and Tiramisu - challenging enough, but not so difficult that it intimidates.

Everyone has a good time and good food, the group becomes a more cohesive unit, and for once we're the ones watching people cook!