This is a fun and interactive activity that engages participants while having fun with food. It's the communication and the decision making while coming up with a process that has everyone engaged, immediately.
For work, family, friends, or 12-year old's birthday party.
Your group is divided into teams of 2 to 5 people. The working relationships, i.e. collaborations, are immediate: ideas exchanged and decisions made in minutes to create a process and finish the task on time.
Competition between the teams shows up after the buzzer sounds. At that point, each team will assess/compare their own product with the other teams to see who qualifies for specific categories (see judging, below). Laughter and camaraderie emerges. Amazing ingenuity and creativity materializes. Incredible looking presentation and composition occurs.
No talent, or experience needed. Everyone says "it was easier than I thought."
What is it?? It's...
-- an ice breaker.
-- a team building activity.
-- a family fun event.
-- an activity during a party with friends.
-- for kids, too: best suited for 12+ years old
This event is 2 hours with appetizers. Or 3.5 hours for a full meal. See details, below.
The 2-hour event:
This event has appetizers and is a 30-minute simple food competition, with no cooking (all food that requires cooking will be done ahead of time). The teams are making/assembling appetizer bites. The remaining time is mingling, eating and talking about their tasty successes. The location/venue for this event can be anywhere, even outdoors because it does not require cooking …and only napkins are needed because the appetizers are one-bite finger food.
Ingredients in the baskets:
For this 2-hour event, it is up to you/your group if you want all baskets to be sweet items, or savory. And, if you want to baskets to identical, ....or the baskets to be different. If identical ingredients in each basket, then the competition between the teams is escalated, which works well for some groups. The drawback is there's only one type of appetizer to eat. If the baskets are different, then the group will have a variety of appetizers to eat. However, for larger groups such as 50 people, the group divides into 10 teams. And there will be 5 different baskets and each basket will be duplicated so that 2 teams have the exact same items. It's loads of fun to see the differences between the two, and intriguing to hear about the teams' (short) journey to making/creating their version.
Past events for this 2-hour activity:
Example 1: 50 principals from a local unified school district. They had a 2-day summertime 'off-site' meeting at a winery and my Mystery Basket Challenge was a success --just what they wanted: a short/fun/potent team building experience.
Example 2: 6 people wanted to do a special 'goodbye' activity for a co-worker who was leaving the company. They came to my home for 2 hours, did the appetizer Challenge and then sat in the backyard cabana laughing and enjoying each other with their wine and appetizers that they just made.
The 3.5-hour event:
This event has a 3-course meal, with a 1.5-hour food competition where each team is required to cook a dish that is part of the meal. The location for this event can be a full kitchen large enough to accommodate the group. Or, a venue where we can use my single-burner butane camping stoves (I have 3 of them).
Ingredients in the baskets:
For this 3.5-hour event, each basket contains food for a dish that is part of a 3-course meal. No recipes are given, and the group can decide if you all can search the internet for recipes.
Past events for this 3.5 hour activity:
Example 1: 18 people, with 3 teams - and they had 1.5 hours to make a paella. Each team had identical ingredients (oh, except 1 pan was vegetarian). It was a hoot to see the differences between the pans. I have 3 paella pans and 3 butane burners.
Example 2: 9 girls (13-year olds!), had 3 teams. Each team had a basket with only 3 ingredients. They could use any food from the 6-foot long table full of fresh produce and pantry items. Basket #1 had: flour, eggs, salt and a pasta machine. They made pasta with 3 types of sauces: pesto, marinara and Alfredo! Basket #2 had: salmon, lemon, butter. This team made 2 salmon entrees - a crispy version on the stovetop, and a soft succulent version in the oven. Each served with their own sauce and a wild rice pilaf. Basket #3 had: Chocolate, eggs, sugar. This group made a 3-layer cake with a marshmallow gooey filling, garnished with strawberries dipped in chocolate. Everything looked and tasted amazing.
The judging will be peer reviewed kudos, given to the team:
- who finishes first, and on time
- best use of ingredient
- most unique use of gadget
- best use of color, shape and size
- fabulous taste
Group size and venue:
This event can easily scale to whatever size group you have, for example:
- 4 people will be 2 teams with 2 people on each team
- 6 people can be 3 teams of 2 people, or 2 teams of 3 people each
- 16 people is 4 teams of 4 people each
- 40 people is 8 teams of 5 people
- 100 people is 20 teams of 5 people
• Your office: the cafeteria, break room, meeting room, outdoors/patio.
• Your home, ...AirBnB or VRBO rental.
• My home in Sunnyvale near the 101 and Mathilda (max capacity of 20 people and that's a tight fit).
• Other venue ideas: at a winery (I have a few I work with), at a park, in your backyard, at your school.
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Personal Trainer for Your Kitchen
As a "personal trainer for your kitchen," I focus on: the marriage of science and art; cooking methods and the presentation; techniques and improvisation; efficiency and flare. I will teach you life skills-- from knife skills to flavor building. In 2008, I gave up my newsroom career at a local newspaper and since then have been cooking professionally and teaching others. I've been in the health field for decades starting with my forays into achieving wellness for myself through food, in 1988. That journey led me to the esteemed Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, where I graduated in 2006 and 2007, as a Nutrition Educator and Natural Chef, respectively.
During the past decade, I did a deep dive into the art, science and sustainability of food and cooking.
Please, join me on my journey.