Team Building Idea

Team building idea for the kitchen

Many in our community still do not realize there are opportunities to experience the Lincoln Land Community College state-of-the-art culinary labs other than by taking semester-long college classes for credit. Our short term community cooking and baking classes are very popular and range from baking bread to making gnocchi. Another opportunity is through our team building idea program.

A few weeks ago, we hosted Hanson Professional Services in our culinary labs for a team building experience. Fifteen people from Hanson came together and prepared tapas dishes under the direction of LLCC culinary specialist, Chef Sean Keeley. Most foodies in the community are familiar with Chef Sean from his days at Ross Isaac’s. The Hanson people were divided into three teams and competitively prepared tapas.

The options for our team building idea program are unlimited. For those who want to be very competitive, we have the “Iron Chef” night. Just like the popular television program, each team is given a mystery basket of food items and the opportunity to create a meal. Similar to the office, success for this event is based on planning, good leadership, delegation and direction. Often a judge from the company will determine the best of the best based on taste, presentation, creativity and teamwork.

For Hanson, CEO Sergio "Satch" Pecori and guest judge Mike Aiello from Troxell Insurance served as judges. Team building idea experiences include “Build a Burger Challenge,” “Chocolate Challenge,” “Pizza, Pizza” (you would not believe the toppings that are provided), and “Sushi, Sushi.” If the company chooses not to be competitive, they also have the option to come together in our lab, select a dinner theme such as “Julia Child” or “Night in Havana” and watch the chef prepare and explain the various steps and then dine. We are very accustomed to meeting any individual dietary challenge group members may have including lactose, vegetarian, gluten or nut-free and can customize a class around any theme/cuisine you select.

The success of most companies relies on the ability for the team to work together effectively. A cooking team building exercise is a delicious way to not only promote each team member’s self-confidence and self-esteem, but also enhance how well these members work together as a team. With cooking team building idea exercises, each team member has a role to perform during the meal preparation. This helps everyone learn new skills and practice working on a single project. Another benefit of culinary team building exercises is that it can help foster cultural awareness and diversity by learning how to cook a variety of international/ethnic dishes, ideal for offices that are comprised of people from different backgrounds.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to observe all the activity in the kitchen, and just like in the real world, teams that start with a plan are normally very organized and are often the winners. For others, the effort starts out with total chaos and usually ends in failure. Luckily, this is a safe learning environment. Throughout the experience, Chef Sean (or guest chef), and our culinary student assistants encourage, instruct on various cooking techniques, and provide guidance. Of course, the best part of the program is when everyone gets to dine while we do all the dishes.

Chef Sean provided us the following recipe from the Team Tapas Challenge.

Stuffed Dates

• 24 Medjool dates (about 2 cups)

• 1/2 cup soft goat cheese or blue cheese

• 12 strips thin bacon, sliced crosswise

• Sturdy toothpicks


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. With a small sharp knife, make a slit in one side of each date and remove the pit.

3. Stuff about 1 teaspoon of cheese into the cavity.

4. Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around each date. Secure with a toothpick.

5. Place on a rimmed baking tray (lined with parchment paper) and bake for 10 min.

6. Remove from oven, turn each one over and bake for a further 6-8 minutes. Repeat this step one more time, or until bacon is cooked. Cook longer if you prefer crispier bacon.

Drain on paper towels. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

"Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat." — Guy Fieri

More Team Building Idea

A six sigma team building idea we used was called "Lunch and Learn". Since the team must be educated with the improvement tools of six sigma we scheduled every Friday for 2 hours we would have a "Lunch and Learn". We broke bread together and learned. It was a great success. After about 1 year of team lunch and learn:

  • Entire team had over 100 hours of lean six sigma training
  • Team worked well together and accomplished great improvement projects

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