The thought of a team building exercise typically evokes an eye roll (or two) from a few displeased employees. But the best way to just about anyone’s heart, as the saying goes, is through their stomach. At The Digest, this couldn’t be more true when it comes to our staff so we recently took a trip over to the Culinary Conference Center in Jersey City for an afternoon of fun and more importantly, food.
Since their opening in 2008, Culinary Conference Center has served as an event space, host to business meetings, as well as a well-received setting for off-site team outings. And instead of just sitting down to a nice spread, Culinary Conference Center truly makes you work for your meal.
Regardless of your level of expertise in the kitchen, their team building program is meant to foster open communication, teach thoughtful resource allocation, encourage successful risk taking, improve productivity and effectiveness, heighten camaraderie and break through barriers. Upon entering one of their many professional kitchens, we were given traditional white aprons, paper chef hats, a choice of beer or wine and a breakdown of the day’s menu which we were expected to prepare. It read: gazpacho with grilled shrimp; roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and sherry wine vinaigrette; grilled filet mignon with swiss chard and poached eggs over toasted foccacia; nectarine frangipane tart. While it can all be a bit intimidating at first—large knives, hot grills and industrial appliances—you must trust your team (and designated chef in-charge) to get you through it.
It was then time to divide and conquer. Half our group manned the grill while the others took care of the prep work—mise en place, anyone? The channeling of our inner chef began and soon, shrimp and steak were seared off, gazpacho was blended and greens were sautéeing. Along the way, our head chef took the time to explain to us the technique, flavors and textures behind each dish we were creating and taught us how to make our food look as good as it tasted.
Instead of your run-of-the-mill team building games and exercises, the Culinary Conference Center offers a unique and appetizing alternative that’ll get your employees excited. Just remember to communicate, work together and to not take the experience too seriously—it’s not Iron Chef, after all.
To book your next group activity, visit their website.
About the Author/s
Abby is The Digest's Managing Editor. She spends her time looking at dogs on Instagram and eating her way around Jersey City.