Zenreach is a tech company made up of fantastic, hard-working, dedicated individuals. Like most dynamic teams, we have people with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, and one of those interests that stands out clearly here is we have some real, hardcore foodies! At all of our offices, you’re likely to overhear a passionate conversation about food at least once a day.
Want to know the difference between butter chicken and chicken tikka masala? Get ready for a delicious dissertation. Are you looking for a place to take board members or clients out to dinner? Your inbox will become a virtual Michelin guide within an hour. We even have a Slack channel dedicated to eating.
Not surprisingly, for our latest San Francisco team building event, we chose to go with an interactive cooking party at Hands on Gourmet. We had a blast, and I couldn’t recommend it more.
The way it works is, you show up at their gorgeous space in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood with an appetite. Everyone mingles for a bit over a few drinks and a serious cheese plate (pro tip: get yourself some of Cowgirl Creamery’s Barely Buzzed espresso rubbed cheddar ASAP).
Next, you split into teams. Each group gets their own professional chef who walks you through the creation of a portion of a shared meal. This isn’t glorified meal kit assembly. The chefs teach you how to make everything from scratch using expert skills and kitchen hacks. If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a better way to cut an onion or prepare rice, this is definitely going to be your jam. Even our more accomplished home cooks and service industry veterans learned some new tricks.
When you book the event, you get to choose a specific seasonal menu. We went with Mexican. Everything was excellent, but the Roasted Pumpkin Soup and Yucatan Grilled Chicken were standouts. (The fact that I might have had two helpings of dessert should indicate that the strawberry cake was not too bad as well.) Any one of us would’ve been blown away by these courses at a restaurant. That we made them ourselves made it even better. Our chefs were also able to please our vegan and pescatarian team members with recipes that riffed on the main menu.
As the late Anthony Bourdain said, “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.” I subscribe to those words of wisdom from the foodie philosopher. One of our team members taught English as a second language in Spain for four years. Another climbed Mt. Shasta—and then skied down it! And a third once, while working in a food truck, had to put out a grease fire while careening down a narrow mountain road.
As food is essential to life, so is teamwork essential to success. Getting to know your team—through a shared meal or otherwise—is critical to establishing strong teamwork. I think we will have to do this again soon.