One Company’s Team Building Experience

Last night, the Old Town Media staff banded together in two competing teams to create a culinary masterpiece during a Team Building class at The Cooking Studio. Well, almost a culinary masterpiece. Let’s just say that while none of us are quitting our day jobs to become chefs, we did learn a lot about how our team works together to achieve a common goal.

Recipe and ingredient review

How the Team Building Class Worked

We split our staff into two different teams: the marketing department (Cassidy, Aditi, Stephanie, Brianne and Katie) and the management team (Miles, Val, Mike and me). Both teams prepared the same menu items to be judged by Trish, Owner of The Cooking Studio, and Chef Scott “Manno” Manning, Guest Chef and Chef at Taps Sports Bar and Grill. The menu items were judged in three categories: best presentation, best use of the secret ingredient and overall winner.

The menu included a variety of dishes that tested our knife skills, forced us to prioritize and required us to work together as a team to get things done on time (and correctly).

The Menu:

  • Salad Topped With Our Own Unique Vinaigrette
  • Caramelized Baked Chicken with Domino Potatoes Topped with Thyme
  • Curry Carrot Soup Topped with Roasted Almonds
  • Poached Pears in a Spiced Red Wine Reduction
  • Secret Ingredient: Pepitas (which we later learned is just a fancy way of saying Pumpkin Seeds, and by fancy I mean Spanish)

The Experience:

After I finished running around like a chicken with its head cut off, deciphering what the vegetables and herbs were in the recipes (9 out of 10 meals of mine are Pizza Hot Pockets and I mistook sage for a shallot), it was apparent that the two teams had very different methods of working together.

The marketing department worked together by identifying tasks that were similar, determining who was responsible for what and then working in smaller sub-teams to complete those tasks. The management team sort of looked around, re-read the instructions and then all started working individually on different tasks with the larger goal in mind. When the marketing team was putting their chicken into the oven and the management team’s was still raw in a bowl, both Trish and Chef Manno were unsure if we were actually going to produce a meal.

The most interesting thing was that, by the end, both teams had somehow pulled it together and we had a great meal on all accounts.

The Outcome:

The marketing team won best presentation and best use of the secret ingredient (they made candied pepitas to go with dessert while we put ours on literally everything) and the management team won overall winner (but we think that’s just because they felt bad for us). We learned how to poach pears, trim chicken correctly, make vinaigrette from scratch and we learned that making soup is really, really hard, but the real lesson here was that while we all work together differently, we do actually work pretty well as a team.

We’re all so comfortable at our desks, it’s really eye-opening to see how we each dealt with not knowing what to do at first and how we eventually fell into a groove (and I learned that Val is a cheater cheater pumpkin seed pepita eater).   ~ Aditi