How to Hold a Competitive Cook-Off in Your Office

 

Are you looking for an exciting team-building activity to energize your office? These events aren’t just fluff — they’re vital to your success. A positive atmosphere often leads to an increase in employee retention and morale.

To provide just one idea, cook-offs are an excellent way to get your employees motivated and involved. Even folks who aren’t addicted to Food Network competitions can’t wait to demonstrate their wizardry in the kitchen.

Pulling off a successful event does take some work, of course, but the rewards you’ll reap are well worth the effort. Plus, you’ll enjoy a lot of great food. Talk about a win-win.

So where do you start?

Step One: Establish the Ground Rules

Every competition needs a set of rules to ensure fairness. You might not realize how much you need to consider.

For example, will you allow contestants to start a portion of their dish at home, or will you require on-site preparation for every step in the recipe? Will you provide certain staples, such as salt and pepper, or will you need people to bring toppings with them?

You also need to adhere to all local health codes. Check with your city or state’s website for food handling requirements. Additionally, don’t overlook seemingly minor details that can nevertheless spell disaster. A BBQ competition with an insufficient napkin stash can result in sticky fingers and stained clothing. If you don’t want your tech team going crazy over sauce-slathered keyboards, bring more supplies than you’ll need.

Step Two: Locate an Appealing Venue

You can always host your cook-off at the office. But part of the fun is getting the crew together outside of your typical workspace. Do you have a park or a green area outdoors? This location benefits cook-offs because you can have open flames in many cases. Additionally, cleanup becomes a snap. If your complex isn’t adjacent to a greenbelt or wild area, can you rent pavilions at a nearby park?

If you live in an area where wildfires pose a threat, check for any burn restrictions before scheduling your event. You don’t want your day ruined because the park closed the pits. Also, keep an eye on the weather forecast. Few people want to get their office attire wet. Plus, staff who have long commutes won’t appreciate sitting around in soggy clothes!

Once you locate a suitable facility, book it early and provide information about the location to team members.

Step Three: Rally the Troops

For your event to succeed, you’ll want a lot of competition. Plus, you have an entire team to feed. To garner the most participation, start a signup sheet early in the planning process. A wise idea is to send a brief email using an online survey service to determine the level of interest.

You also need to ensure that all participants have the information they need to comply with the requisite health codes and predetermined rules. If you run an eatery, you’ll have no problem with this step.

In the majority of work environments, you’ll need to distribute information on safe food-handling techniques to ensure participants bring in the necessary equipment, like gloves and hairnets. It’s smart to keep a few spares on hand, as well.

Step Four: Roll Up Your Sleeves

It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of a small company or a member of the HR team. Staff members want to see you join in the fun, too. Depending on your office dynamics, you might refrain from the competition itself. After all, you don’t want employees to feel compelled to give you their vote. You should still roll up your sleeves and help, though.

That said, you need to maintain a professional image. It’s okay to dress down a bit, but don’t appear overly sloppy with torn jeans or a stained shirt. An older Polo or a neatly pressed tee over a pair of capris and tidy sneakers look casual without screaming, “I just rolled out of bed.”

Step Five: Enjoy the Food!

Finally, it’s time to enjoy the fruits — or the meats — of your labor. Keep in mind that, even though you’re doing a cook-off, you want to respect all staff members. Make sure participants label ingredients and allow employees with food allergies to go to the front of the line to avoid cross-contamination.

Not everyone will try every dish, and that’s okay. You can have people without sensitivities volunteer as judges, or you can create separate categories for vegan/vegetarian meals.

Kick back and enjoy a relaxing afternoon with your team. The hardest workers deserve the opportunity to enjoy the rewards of their labor.

Build Camaraderie With a Cook-Off

Team-building activities reduce employee turnover and increase workplace satisfaction. If you feel the need to boost morale, why not consider a BBQ cook-off for your next event?

Author Bio:

Dylan Bartlett, aka, “The Regular Guide,” writes about a broad variety of topics on his blog. Check out Just a Regular Guide for more, or follow him on Twitter @theregularguidefor frequent updates!

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