Tag corporate parties

Parties That Cook’s Seattle Event Recap: Corporate Cooking Competition

Happy Friday! For this corporate team building event recap, we thought we’d bring you the story from a different angle. Now, Carolyn takes it away with her first-hand report, all the way from Portland! (Or was it Seattle..?)

We, at Parties That Cook, love a challenge, especially when it involves cooking. So when Bri O., the host of a recent Seattle Microsoft event, requested that we turn their Sumptuous Small Plates dinner into a competition, we excitedly replied, “Absolutely!”

Before long, our team had the 6 cooking stations set up. We welcomed our guests with an antipasti platter and beverages. As guests put on their aprons, they quickly realized that they were about to face off in a cooking competition. Which team would make the best dish using Parties That Cook’s recipes? Only time would tell.

Excitement mounted as I explained how the competition would unfold, demonstrating tips and tricks that would come in handy in their cooking and providing suggestions on how to win (best execution, presentation, bribe, etc.)!

Soon enough, guests were assigned to their teams, had washed their hands, and the cooking had begun! While our inspiring Kitchen Challenge playlist pumped out rockin’ tunes, the PTC chefs circulated through the room making sure everyone was having fun and learning new cooking techniques. Our Server, Elizabeth, captured action shots of the guests while they cooked (to be emailed to them the following day), and made sure everyone was staying “hydrated”.

Delicious cooking aromas filled the air, and a few staff members at the venue, 415 Westlake, poked their heads in to see what all the excitement was about! One team made fresh Burrata, a delicious creamy version of mozzarella, on Grilled Bread, while another creatively executed mini Philly Cheese Steaks with Gruyere Cheese Sauce (yum!). There were also Little Fish Tacos with Chipotle-Lime Crema, Lettuce Cups with Minced Gingered Chicken and Hoisin, Shiitake-Scallion Potstickers, and Ahi Tuna Tartare in Toasted Won Ton Cups.

After an hour, the clock stopped and teams artfully plated their dishes for the presentation table. Each team chose their most charismatic member to present their dish and argue why they think they should win. After the presentations, guests were invited to enjoy their own helping of Small Plates. The room was quickly filled with the sounds of “Mmmm”.

Meanwhile, the chefs tasted, analyzed and critiqued each team’s dish back in the kitchen. The tension was high as the guests wondered how their dish scored. Like always, it was a difficult decision to make. Everyone did an excellent job, but a winner had to be chosen. Ultimately, it came down to the Philly Cheese Steak Team! They executed the recipe very well, worked together when troubleshooting how to get the right sauce consistency, plated up their dish beautifully, and made a second platter with additional toasted bread and cheese sauce (who doesn’t extra love bread and deliciously melted cheese sauce??). Congratulations, Philly Cheese Steak Team!

Each team member was awarded one of our More Sumptuous Small Plates Recipe Decks containing 30 of our favorite recipes, easy-to-read and all in one little box. There are even photos on the cards to show you how the dish will look!

Hopefully everyone will be inspired to bring what they learned back to their own kitchens to share with friends and family. We received many thank you’s and comments about how unique this event was. We love hearing that! Thank you, Bri, for bringing your Microsoft group to join us in a fun and spontaneously competitive cooking party! Hope to see you again soon!

Parties That Cook’s Top 5 Corporate Holiday Party Ideas

So your boss just told you it’s your turn to plan the office’s annual holiday party.
And it’s December.

No need to enter meltdown mode, Parties That Cook is here with our best Corporate Christmas Party Ideas! Forget trust falls and awkwardly themed office parties (though we do love a good Lady Gaga theme). When thinking about a great year end party, consider a hands-on experience! Sure, staff dinners and after-work drinks are fun, but the holiday party should be more than that. You want to plan something your coworkers will be talking about far into the new year!

Cooking Parties are a great option for last-minute holiday parties. The holidays are all about that warm, fuzzy feeling we like to call camaraderie, and a hands-on group project like cooking dinner for yourselves gets people involved and builds teamwork and camaraderie fitting for the season. Having been in business for 12 years, we’ve learned a few things about throwing the BEST holiday parties.

Here are 5 Corporate Holiday Party Ideas and tips that will help turn your get-together into a party – fast.

1. Theme – When it comes to selecting a theme, the simpler the better. This may be a work function, but it should NOT feel like work! There’s no need to try to incorporate 4 themes in one night (e.g. an ugly sweater potluck where all the food has to be red or green, and vegetarian), and there’s certainly nothing wrong with hosting a classic “Holiday Party”.

2. Venue – There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a venue.
Group size: Will everyone even fit in Michael’s 1 bedroom apartment? Will the party of 10 be swallowed up in the company warehouse? Parties That Cook works with dozens of venues for all group sizes, so you know you have options.
Convenience: How far is it? Do guests have to plan to leave work early to get there? You want guests to want to come; don’t intimidate them with a long drive.
Budget: Can we afford to rent an event space? Maybe the office really can accommodate our 25 person team. Parties That Cook often works with groups on a budget. Hosting the event in-house is a simple way to stretch those party dollars.
Weather: Booking an expensive venue with a gorgeous outdoor patio does nothing for you if it’s snowing.

3. Menu – Seasonality is key. Be sure to pick dishes with ingredients currently in season. While it can be done, finding adequate substitutes for out-of-season ingredients can be quite the hassle (which is why Parties That Cook creates new menu options for each season). Also, remember that there is such a thing as “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Consulting everyone on the menu might result in a menu that doesn’t mesh well, or no menu at all. Parties That Cook event planners work with one individual when selecting a menu, and are well versed in which dishes pair well with others… Do be sure to make note of dietary restrictions, however! Vegetarians, vegans and any other dietary restriction are always welcome. It may help to be put these individuals on the team making a dish involving special preparation. Check out our holiday menus for inspiration!

4. Decorations – Adding special touches to the dining table and around the event space is a great way to incorporate a theme! At Parties That Cook, we’ve also found that simply placing flower arrangements as center pieces or accents here and there can make a beautiful difference in the ambiance.

5. Extras – Giving little holiday gifts to employees (about the same as a stocking-stuffer) is an affordable way to add something special to the evening. Parties That Cook offers a variety of holiday gifts as event add-ons. Sometimes it’s a helpful cookbook or a useful cooking utensil, other times it’s little personalized chocolates with the company’s logo — the sky’s the limit! You can even put a fun twist on your party and consider adding a White Elephant gift exchange! Each guest randomly selects a gift (stealing is allowed), the stress of getting a gift for a particular person is avoided, and you can set the maximum gift price! Either way, guests walk away with even more than just fond memories.

On a budget? You’re in luck! We’ve dug up this gem of a blog from 2008 with helpful tips to Save Your Holiday Party from the Ax!

We hope this blog helped give you some ideas to get your last minute corporate holiday party going! It may be late in the year, but we still have some December dates available for your corporate team building event or holiday party. Hope to see you in the kitchen soon!