Tag Sumptuous Small Plates Challenge

Marketing Intern Turned Guest Participates at Corporate Cooking Competition

Whisk and ChocolatePart of my internship this summer involves experiencing the many different kinds of team building activities we provide. Last week’s adventure was a Sumptuous Small Plates Challenges, our classic cocktail-style event with a competitive twist. Parties That Cook really knows how to stage successful and entertaining corporate events, so I was excited for this particular event. Taking on the role of a guest, I was assigned to help with the Boston Cream Trifle with Strawberries. YUM.

When the guests strolled in, we promptly started pouring wine, sodas, and large glasses of water. It was a sweltering day, and these guest chefs needed to stay hydrated. We were at the Montclair Women’s Club near Stanford, and since we had over fifty guests, I really appreciated the shear amount of space!

Fifty people produce a lot of body heat, so we threw open the doors and windows and settled down to listen to Chef Heather present the preliminary demonstration and safety tips. She was full of witty one-liners like “Hot behind!” or “Hot item coming through!” These are two of our signature signals for moving hot objects. (In case you missed it: The first is a compliment, and the second compliments yourself.) Our guests found the demo very amusing and was visibly excited to get to work.

As my dessert team assembled around our cooking station, we surveyed the recipe. There were three parts to cover: cake, ganache, and custard. This wasn’t going to be easy, but having tasted other PTC recipes, I knew it’d be well worth the effort. We divided ourselves into three mini teams before heading off for the all-important hand washing.

Back at the station, a few of the guys began cracking the 24 eggs going into the cake, and it became apparent that a few people on my team had never baked before. Not a problem! Between the four of them, they figured out how to separate the yolks from the whites, all the while jokingly rating each other and rearranging their assembly line for efficiency. This was teamwork at its finest: Figure out what each person’s strength is, and use it to get the best results. Seeing that they had everything under control, I turned my attention to the custard.

Pies!Now, I love making pie. Last summer was essentially the “Summer of Pie” in my house. My parents gracefully put up with an endless troupe of teenagers coming through to eat the 3-4 pies I’d baked that week. Remembering that even I had quite a bit of difficulty with my first couple of attempts at custard, I was prepared for this group to run into the same issue: namely, getting the custard to thicken properly.

With measured ingredients in hand, we began to heat the cream and sugar as other teammates separated yolks from whites. We tempered the eggs, adding a bit of the cream before stirring it all back into the the cream mixture. This was all very new for my team, and I was excited to be part of it.

Of course, the ovens were being hogged by another group, so I ran off to the kitchen for some space and temperature negotiating. After a few minutes, we realized we’d forgotten to add the cornstarch. For those of you that don’t know, cornstarch is a thickening agent. We consulted Heather, and she said the eggs had done all the thickening on their own. First time, and this group was already having more success than I had! Hooray!!!

Chocolate and StrawberriesAside from the cake baking s-l-o-w-l-y, everything went off without a hitch. We began assembling our dish in itty-bitty dessert cups with tiny tasting spoons you’d find at ice creameries. The presentation was cute, but we were rushing to get our dish onto the judging table before the clock ran out! Though we submitted our main platter to the judges in the nick of time, we were still assembling as teams began sampling the other dishes. The pressure was on!

And that’s when something really amazing happened. Folks from other teams came over and joined our assembly line until every last cup had been filled. This group of amazing people wouldn’t let anyone in their company fall behind.

I enjoy serving at Parties That Cook events, but I really loved being a participant. It was fun and exciting to watch people who had never baked, used an oven, cracked an egg, etc. be so willing to immerse themselves in the process. We laughed, worked together to fix mistakes, and even had a fun slam dunking egg shells into the trash. Cooking brings out a special joy, and this girl enjoyed every second of it.

Parties That Cook’s Fall Event Recap: Cooking Up Teamwork Outside the Office

It’s that time of the week again: Time to reflect on some of our fun events in recent Parties That Cook history. From traditional Sumptuous Small Plates events to full blown Executive Kitchen Challenges, this post features some of the latest and greatest of our corporate team building events!

First, we’ll finish off September with a fun Chicago event. ADM hosted a Small Plates event on the 29th, and from what we’ve heard, the dishes were all a hit! Chef Molly reported that all the recipes turned out great. This “fantastic” group was very energetic and very competitive. Molly added, “Everyone got into every aspect and had a great time. In the end, at least 7 different people told me that this was the best team event they had ever done.” Fantastic! The ADM host, Lori, commented, “Nothing could have made it more enjoyable… It was well organized, clean and a totally different experience.” She even made sure to note the impact Chef Molly (and her personality) had on the success of the event!

Near the end of October’s first week, Chef Irfan led MAP Pharmaceuticals in a Small Plates event, as well. Chef Irfan believed it was a great menu, and received plenty of positive feedback on the recipes from the guests. Who wouldn’t love a menu with Sweet Potato Pancakes, Hot Crab Dip with Soft Pretzels, and Mini Apple, Roquefort and Onion Pies?? MAP Pharma host, Trudi, thought Irfan was fun and insightful, and said the PTC team was “knowledgeable and made us all feel like we were learning something at the same time that we made delicious food.” Not too shabby for an outing when your team can “see each other in a different setting without talking about work.” (Trudi thought this was the best part about the event!) Great job, team!

A week later, SVB decided to customize things a bit. Chef Scott led this Sumptuous Small Plates event with an added “challenge” component, and the guests really got into it! SVB host, Namita, said the best part was the presentation of the plates after the cooking. She added that she thought Chef Scott was a great teacher, and even said, “The event was successful because we had our head and sous chefs helping us. We may have had disasters otherwise.” We’d never let that happen, Namita!

To round things out, Kaiser hosted an Executive Kitchen Challenge – professional business coach and all! Second-time Kaiser host, Celina, wanted an opportunity for staff to become better acquainted with peers outside the work setting. As you can see, things got a little intense when blindfolds were brought into the equation (talk about a need for good communication skills!).

After the event, Celina reported that the event was successful because everyone was engaged in the team building activities and there was excellent facilitation by our event staff. Jed thought our usual Executive Kitchen Challenge facilitator/business coach, Starla, was “on her game”. Celina added, “Jed is awesome! He makes the event lots of fun and also provides a learning opportunity. Heather (the Sous Chef) was very encouraging and provided guidance but encouraged us to make our own decisions.” Great job, PTC Team!

If you would like to see your event featured in one of our Event Blogs, let us know!
We hope to see you in the kitchen soon!