Friday, March 1, 2019

Corporate Team-Building Activity: Chocolate Arts & Wine Pairing

Corporate Team-Building Activity: 
Chocolate Making & Wine Pairing 

 Vegan Refreshments: 
Roasted Rainbow Carrots Chocolate Hummus 

 Vegan & Gluten-Free Refreshments: 
Cilantro Butter Beans Meyer Lemon Hummus 

 Beautiful Chocolate Arts made by Employees

Delicious Spanish Wine Paired with Chocolates 

Chocolate & Wine Pairing Class 

Organic Herbs, Flowers & Dried Fruits 

 Valrhona Manjari 64% Dark Chocolate 

Corporate Team-Building Activity: Chocolate Arts & Wine Pairing

I had a wonderful time recently leading a culinary team-building activity and am excited to share my inspirational story behind it!

I worked in the high-tech industry for 20 years and immensely enjoyed my highly successful sales career. One part of my work I particularly loved was taking training classes on sales, marketing, customer service, new technologies, and leadership. However, I did not enjoy, nor did I feel I benefited from the corporate team building activities or events I was compelled to attend. They often involved uninspiring PowerPoint presentations and ineffective team-building exercises.

So, when I left high-tech in 2011 to build my own company and pursue my life-long dream to be a vegan Mediterranean chef and interior designer, I found it was a chance to freely express my views. In the exit interview with the company where I last worked, the HR manager thanked me for my service and asked if there was anything else I’d like to say before we adjourned.

I excitedly said, “yes!”

I stated that while I appreciated the company’s efforts at promoting teamwork and collaboration, I did not find the team-building activities or events beneficial. Instead I would have much preferred an activity such as a cooking class! I further added that I believed hands-on interactive culinary team building classes present a fun and effective way to create employee bonding experiences. They encourage teamwork, enhance communication (clear and open communication is key to the success of projects and relationships within a company), promote problem solving skills and foster camaraderie in a relaxed and fun environment. They can be custom designed per dietary requirements and budgets too. I closed by saying that I would be offering such classes and activities once my company, Lavender Design + Cuisine was up and running.

A few months after that I received a call from a company in Silicon Valley to conduct a cooking class as a team-building activity. They were referred to me by the HR manager that I had my last exit interview with. I’m so glad I shared what was on my mind with them!

Ever since then I’ve been offering chocolate and vegan cooking classes to companies as a ‘team building activity’ and I absolutely love it! The joy on employees’ faces in my culinary classes is simply priceless!  Today, I’m excited to share that my concept, which apparently was already offered by a few companies back then, now has become even more popular and that is wonderful!

Now in all the years I offered these services I was not permitted to take pictures of my culinary team-building activities due to privacy considerations. That has all changed with my introduction this year of a new idea: Taking pictures of employees’ beautiful culinary creations and their hands only. It’s a lovely compromise. The above pictures are from my 1st culinary team-building event in 2019 for a start-up company in San Francisco referred to me by one of my wonderful culinary students and below is their beautiful testimonial:

'Chef Ellie brightened up our day with her chocolate-making offsite as she shared her love of food and life with my engineering team. She created a light-hearted and enjoyable environment where we all relaxed and had fun creating unique chocolates, flavored with organic culinary lavender, homemade candied orange, and other crave-worthy toppings. We had fun as a team working together to make chocolate mini-cups, medallions, and taste-testing along the way! I really appreciated that Ellie made it so easy logistically. We didn't have access to a stove-top, so she used the microwave to temper the chocolate, and had all the ingredients ready to go. I can't thank her enough for keeping dietary restrictions in mind (allergies to gluten, dairy, nuts, carrots!).  Another nice touch was Ellie brought a fantastic wine for us to enjoy as we got creative, plus sent us all home with a carefully selected bottle to pair with our chocolates, which we wrapped up into nice boxes.  I highly recommend Ellie's chocolate class as an offsite for any team in any organization! I promise you'll have a fantastic and memorable time.'

I’m excited for additional classes that are coming soon!

Chef Ellie Lavender
Vegan Mediterranean Personal Chef
Culinary & Wine Pairing Instructor
Lavender Design + Cuisine

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