Building teams, Creatively

When one thinks of teambuilding, sporting activities immediately come to mind. However, staff can also bond through creative avenues such as musical activities and cooking workshops. HRM delves into this teambuilding sphere

Many employers naturally think of sporting activities when they decide to embark on teambuilding. However, companies can also look towards creative activities for the same purposes.

“Not everyone might be physically fit or able to take part in sporting activities, so creative activities allow people of all ages and physical fitness levels to be equally involved,” says Amanda Phan, “Hostess Extraordinaire”, Cookyn Inc.

“Doing a different teambuilding exercise from the regular sporting activities can also offer a different challenge to colleagues who might have done many sporting activities previously,” she adds.

Indeed, once sport is off the table, there is wide range of options for non-physical teambuilding activities.

“Traditionally, it was always sports because it was competitive and most employees were men,” says Lynette Foo, Managing Director, Palate Sensations Cooking School. “Now we have both sexes and the playing field has changed so creative activities such as cooking is more applicable because everyone eats and therefore has an opinion about food,” she adds. “Whether they are good at cooking or cook at all is irrelevant.”

Cooking together

Cooking a meal together represents a common goal for an entire team to work towards – an excellent metaphor for the workplace where teams must be aligned in order to produce the best results.

“At Cookyn Inc, we get each team to cook a different part of the meal, using different cooking equipment and ingredients, and then contribute their portion to a common meal,” Phan explains. “This mirrors how in the workplace colleagues with different skill sets and abilities all have to work together to contribute and bring something to the table.”

Regadless of which corporate team building event a company chooses at Palate Sensations, it all boils down to team effort. For example, if employees choose the “Cook & Dine” and the “Food Tower” challenge, the team has to cook a three-course meal and build a food tower in the space of 90 minutes.

They also have to allocate resources (human resources, ingredients, and equipment) and co-ordinate themselves so that they cook the meal not only on time but in a way that everything is served hot and in the proper sequence.

“All this requires planning and coordination,” says Foo. “The Food Tower challenge represents something about the company and is a team effort to build because they have to present it to all the other teams after. They have to have a story and devise a plan on how to build (the tower) without it falling down.”

Making music as one

The joy of music can also be used for team bonding, through collaborative musical activities that allow participants to have fun and enjoy while learning to work as a team through group percussion.

Drumming is unique because it has been used for centuries to unite tribes, says Larry Lok, Director of Drum Café Teambuilding and Trainings. “It does not matter if you are the chief or a warrior, when a department, or ‘tribe’, gets together, drumming is a time of celebrating the concept of Ubuntu – ‘I am who I am, because of who we are’.”

No company or department can exist with separate individuals. It is only because of teamwork and collaboration that companies are successful, Lok says. “Similarly, each organisation has its own culture or ‘beat’.

“Through a well-facilitated drumming workshop, departments can discover their beat and learn to work in harmony – just like an orchestra,” he explains. “Putting together the different beats that staff play adds up to something more powerful than the sum of the individual parts.”

Diversifying teambuilding strategies

The aim of teambuilding is ultimately to create an informal, fun atmosphere that breaks down barriers. “Whatever staff do in the kitchen, they can take back to the office, and since the atmosphere is fun and informal, everyone is stress-free and wants to get involved,” says Foo.

Not everyone wants to play golf or go go-kart racing or climb mountains or read maps to get from point A to B, she points out. “When you have a variety of team members from different backgrounds, cultures and diets, this forces the team to recognise differences and try to resolve them. When it comes to cooking something, all the different cultures have different ways to make something,” says Foo.

“Also, the team leader here doesn’t have to be the boss in the office,” she points out. “It levels the playing field and gives everyone a chance to work together in a stress-free atmosphere.”


Case Study

Schlumberger’s corporate cookout

Schlumberger recently embarked on a teambuilding programme with Palate Sensations. The leading oilfield services company’s teambuilding session was made up of a senior corporate leadership team and their spouses. “We made sure that no ‘husband and wife’ were on the same team and this added a unique sense of competition to the event,” said Reuben D Raj, HR Manager – Product Group, Schlumberger.

“Everyone had fun, and lots of it. The wives had a chance to see their husbands lend a hand to create tasty meals under the close guidance of the Palate Sensation Chef Charlotte,” he said. “Perhaps the most satisfying outcome of the event was the fact that it remained the talk of the office for weeks to come.

“From sweets to spices, my team had fun at Palate Sensations and we will be coming back for another round of bites to create and feast on.”


Gastronomic activities galore


1. Cookyn Inc





The Kitchen Challenge

(Recommended for group sizes of 20 and above)

•         Participants cook and dine on a three-course gourmet meal together.

•         Along the way, they can expect the kitchen to throw them challenges, like a secret ingredient or an unknown herb.

3 hours

Corporate Cookyn Parties

(Recommended for group sizes of 12 - 20)

•         Participants work together to complete tasks in order to prepare a meal, which they dine on together.

•         Throughout the Cookyn party, there are opportunities for participants to have fun and get to know each other better.

3 hours

Cookyn Inc Social Parties

(Recommended for group sizes of 10 - 20)

•         Participants work together to prepare a meal, which they dine on together.

3.5 hours


2. Palate Sensations Cooking School





Cook & Dine and the Food Tower Challenge

•         Participants cook and dine on a three-course meal.

•         In addition, teams create a food tower that represents the identity and spirit of the team.

•         Participants are required to market what they have built.

3 hours

Bake & Enjoy and the Candy Tower Challenge

•         Participants have to bake three desserts.

•         In addition, teams create a candy tower that represents the identity and spirit of the team.

•         Participants are required to market and dine on what they have built.

3 hours

The Market

•         Creativity plays a big part in this programme, as participants prepare dishes by choosing ingredients from the makeshift market in the Palate Sensations kitchen.

•         Dishes are then judged on taste, creativity and presentation.

•         Participants are required to market what they have created.

2 hours


(Minimum 12 participants)

•         Participants simulate the actual workings of a restaurant kitchen.

•         Each team is required to prepare a different course and serve their fellow co-workers.

•         The teams are evaluated based on the popularity of their dishes.

3 hours

In-Corporate Challenge

•         Each team is given basic ingredients and recipes to prepare two dishes.

•         The culinary process is intermittently interrupted by challenges and trivia.

•         The teams are evaluated on taste, presentation, integration of ingredients, and creativity – both of the dish and of how to work around the extreme challenges thrown at their team.

2 hours

The Great Pizza Challenge

•         Each team is given the basic ingredients to make a pizza and supplies to personalise their pizza box.

•         The culinary process is intermittently interrupted by challenges and trivia.

•         Participants are then required to present a one-minute commercial to sell their pizzas.

2 hours

Cake Story

•         Each team is given cupcakes and a variety of cake decorating ingredients and tools to decorate and display the cupcakes based on a given theme.

•         Participants are required to present their creations and describe it as if it were a three-act story.

3 hours

Bake for a Cause

•         Give back to the community with food! Support a charity of your choice by baking.

•         Teams donate their goods directly or organise a company bake sale and donate the proceeds.

2 hours


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