Team Building Cook-Off Ideas

If you’re looking to increase employee engagement and improve collaboration in the workplace, a team cook-off is the way to go. Food is a great opportunity to bring people together. By introducing a competitive component to the cook-off, you can enable employees to apply their teamwork and communication skills in a fun new way at work. At the end of each cook-off, let the team enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Building Team Spirit With a Cook-Off Competition

There are a number of ways to host a team cook-off at work. Cooking challenge ideas include skill-building competitions, timed competitions and judged competitions. Try changing up how you create the teams. Have each department compete against other departments within your company or create teams with a member from each department. You can also host a competition between managers and front-line employees. Vary how you judge the competitions. You can even have each team rate their competitors’ cooking.

The goal of a team cook-off should be to help employees work better together. By engaging them in a friendly and exciting environment, you can enable employees to get to know one another outside of the regular workplace. At the same time, employees can apply their communication, critical-thinking, problem-solving and prioritization skills to the cook-off.

Focusing on Health

Consider a healthy theme for your next work cook-off. Invite teams to recreate family favorites with a healthy twist. If employees are following certain diets, such as low-carb or high-protein meal plans, you can host a competition based on developing recipes that fit those programs. This encourages employees to support one another’s health goals in addition to working together to create the best dish.

Trying New Cuisines

Encourage employees to share their culinary heritage by having a cook-off that focuses on dishes from around the world. You can select a new country each quarter and host a cook-off based on popular meals from that region. If your business has offices in multiple geographic locations, you can host a competition with teams from each office making a local dish. Consider a competition around categories of food, such as the best curries in the world, where teams make a meal from different countries such as India, Thailand and Jamaica.

Learning New Skills Together

Cook-off ideas for work can be centered around learning a new culinary skill. Conduct an informal survey to find out what kinds of skills employees wish they had in the kitchen and create a cook-off based around improving one of those skills. You can hire an outside instructor to run the competition or assign an employee who is proficient in that skill to give tips. Competitions can be focused around skills such as baking bread from scratch, decorating a cake or advanced knife skills.

Bringing in American Classics

Cook-off ideas for work that focus on American classics such as chili, homemade burgers or regional barbecue are always great ways to engage employees. Ask teams to prepare the dish and have it judged blindly by the executive team. Don’t forget to include a mini competition for sides, such as the best fries, best corn bread and best potato salad. Summer cook-off ideas also include a competition for the best milkshake or ice cream float.

Satisfying a Sweet Tooth

Dessert is sure to get employees excited about participating in a company cook-off. Bake-off ideas include creating a competition for popular desserts such as apple pie, brownies or chocolate-chip cookies. You can even ask teams to bring in the best ice cream bar toppings while you provide the ice cream for everyone to enjoy. Toppings such as crumbled cookies, hot fudge, nuts and fruit are easy to pull together if your employees are pressed for time.

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About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.