Why Do Food and Team Building Go Hand In Hand?

So this one is simple, the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, right? And this certainly creates happy, enthusiastic and sociable people which in turn creates great team building opportunities. So why is it that food and team building go hand in hand? And how can these team building activities in London help you?

Few things can unite a group as easily as food and drink, it is this shared mutual enjoyment of something that allows people to relax and indulge in a chilled atmosphere, which can help form relationships and promote strong team building. It is therefore becoming increasingly common to see offices, companies and colleagues putting on relaxed events revolving around food to induce good team building in London.

Food creates a lot of buzz and when you get the opportunity to get together as a group and have some fun in a low stress environment, there will inevitably be some great moments of team building and friendship-making that are likely to resonate in the office. This is an especially effective way to form bonds between new groups by breaking the ice via a common interest, food. We have all experienced the laid back atmosphere of a summer BBQ or the sophisticated atmosphere of a dinner party, where it is easy to soon find yourself talking to people who were originally unfamiliar. This is precisely why a growing number of companies are using food as a team building activity and a particularly effective stress alleviation policy.

So why is team building so useful? Team building in an office is crucial as it helps to foster better, open communication between the employees themselves, as well as between the employees and the higher management. It goes a long way in improving professional relations, understanding and co-operation, and this is very much reflected in the quality of work being done.

Team building in the workplace significantly contributes towards employee motivation and building trust among the employees, thereby ensuring better productivity and of course a much more friendly place to work.

It is this unique relationship that people have with food that allows them to communally bond and build team ethos. Several ideas for team building activities are:

–         An office picnic in the sun

–         A summer BBQ

–         A dinner party

–         Visiting a restaurant

Although these rather traditional examples, food being used for team building in this way will undoubtedly be very effective. It is even truer that people will engage with each other through teamwork and co-operation. So perhaps try something rather more unorthodox:

–         Food workshops, such as making your own delicious chocolates

–         Cocktail making class

–         Group cooking

Allow people to work together, with a common goal and leaving with a sense of achievement.

Whatever the team building activity you decide to undertake, using food as a main focus is guaranteed to be a real hit and will get everybody involved!

How To Plan A Unique Hen Party Event

Planning the perfect hen party shouldn’t be a chore, so relax and take a look at MyChocolate’s top 6 ideas for planning the perfect evening or weekend (including some unique hen party events) with your friends to luxuriously see of your last free moments …

1. Perfume Creation – For a pretty original hen party, why not get together with your friends and let the creative juices flow, by making your very own perfume. This fragrant idea is guaranteed to be fun and get everybody together rallying off ideas of what’s pleasant and what pongs.

2. Pampering & cocktails – Pretty traditional but that’s for a reason, it’s golden. Every woman likes to feel special and what’s better than pampering yourself in the company of friends with massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. Oh and having a few cocktails of course!

3. Party games – It’s a simple but very effective idea that can help unite a big group and will break the ice between new groups better than a fat penguin. This is endless, whether it’s wedding themed or not so why not get creative? Story time, never have I ever, dress the bride, the handbag game, Mr & Mrs, rate the man, banned words… we really could go on.

4. Vintage tea party with an arts & crafts twist – This is a perfect idea to get everybody involved and having fun. For the ultimate gal who loves make-up and being creative a great idea is to choose a decade and everybody will dress up and have a makeover to fit that decade and then have a tea party. Think sophisticated 60’s tea party. A great little addition to the theme is to add some arts & crafts, like making all of the cute vintage decorations and bunting. This is a great plan for a truly relaxed hen party.

5. Baking, cooking & dinner party – If the bride to be has a bit of a passion for cooking and fancies herself as a bit of a foodie. Getting everybody in the kitchen to display their culinary skills will be great fun (and more than likely a little competitive too). Whether it’s treating her to a dinner party or getting in the kitchen and baking some cake! The hen is guaranteed to have a fun food filled party, and I’m sure there will be time to squeeze in a glass of wine or two in the process.

6. Camping (well … Glamping) – Perhaps we’re dealing with a very outdoorsy hen? Another unique hen party idea is camping, or more than likely glamping will be another great way to get away and truly unwind and have some fun with friends. I mean it’s camping without all the bad bits, in fact glamping tents aren’t the traditional nylon jigsaws we imagine. They are beautiful tee-pee looking havens with all of the facilities of a hotel room. What a great idea!

And after masterminding your incredible plan, nobody wants tensions or hiccups at the party. So, although we can’t help you with the post party hangover, here are MyChocolate’s top tips for a smooth and enjoyable party:

  • Organisation is crucial – Child’s play. If everything is well planned then everybody can relax and have fun from the off.
  • Define a budget – Ensure the budget for the evening/weekend is accurate and in line with everybody’s pocket, eliminate rifts and tears over who had an extra cocktail.
  • Swot up on the guest list – Nothing is more embarrassing than somebody knowing your name, but you not knowing theirs. Prior to the party, ensure you know who everybody is in order to give a nice friendly welcome from the off.
  • Ice Breaking – Hen parties are more than likely going to include the bride’s family and friends from home, university, work, etc. So there are likely to be a few unfamiliar faces, so a great tip is to break the ice by getting to know them a bit before and playing some silly group games.
  • Prioritise the bride – Last but certainly not least, given you are there to give the bride a wonderful send-off it is vital to make sure she has a fantastic party and gain a lot of great memories.

If you’re planning a hen party event why not try one of our special hen party workshops?

MyChocolate’s Hazelnut Truffle Recipe

Truffles are the epitome of luxury and are usually reserved for special occasions. So whether you are throwing a dinner party, a hen party or are just trying to perfect the art of making truffles – we thought we’d share this Hazelnut Truffle recipe with you. It’s no secret that chocolate and hazelnuts go amazingly well together (mmm think Nutella).  Give this recipe a go and discover how easy it is to make truly delicious and decadent chocolates!

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Ingredients

Makes around 30 luxurious truffle chocolates.

170g whipping cream

400g dark chocolate

100g crushed roasted hazelnuts

40g whole hazelnuts

100g crushed wafer

20g cocoa powder

Method

Break 170g of dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Warm the whipping cream in a pan until it’s hot. Slowly pour the hot cream over the broken pieces of chocolate and stir continuously until the chocolate melts into the cream, forming a smooth paste. Add the crushed hazelnuts and stir evenly through the mixture. Leave the mixture to set in the fridge.

Once the mixture has chilled and thickened, spoon out small amounts and push a whole hazelnut into the middle.

Dust your hands with cocoa powder and roll the mixture into a ball be­tween your palms. Keep the truffles under an inch in diameter.

Melt 150g of chocolate “au bain marie”, meaning a bowl resting inside a pan of simmering water. Once it has melted, break 10g of the remaining chocolate into small pieces and add to the molten chocolate to bring the temperature down to 32ºC.

Using a fork, dip the truffles into the tempered molten chocolate and roll immediately in crushed (not powdered) wafer.

For more chocolate recipes check out the MyChocolate blog!

[Image provided by David Leggett]

MyChocolate’s Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

These zesty cupcakes are easy to make and are a tasty companion to afternoon tea. The lemon and poppy seeds make for a great twist on a classic recipe, so if you’re looking to bulk out your cupcake repertoire, look no further!

NB: You may add extra icing if you wish, but we think they are delicious simply as they are.

The ingredients in this recipe will make 3 cupcakes.

 

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Ingredients

50g soft butter
50g self-raising flour
50g caster sugar
1-2 tablespoons of milk
1 egg
Finely grated zest of ½ a lemon and 2 drops of lemon essence

25g of poppy seeds

Tip: weigh the egg(s) in the shell and use same weight each of flour, sugar and butter.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (Electric oven | Electric fan oven 160°C | Gas Mark 4).

Using a wooden spoon or whisk, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and make sure to beat in well. Next, gently fold the flour into the mixture, adding a splash of milk if the mixture is too thick. Finally add your poppy seeds, lemon zest and essence. Place cupcake mixture in paper cases in a muffin tin.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until well risen and light golden brown. After 20 minutes, check to see if the cupcakes are ready. The best way to do this is to insert a cocktail stick into one of the cupcakes – if it comes out dry cupcakes are done otherwise place the cakes back in the oven for a couple more minutes.

Lift the cupcakes out of the muffin tin and leave to cool on a wire rack for a short while.

If you gave this recipe a go and liked it, why not also try our Vanilla Cupcake recipe?

[Image provided by Clever Cupcakes]

MyChocolate’s Vanilla Cupcake Recipe

Wonderful in their simplicity, cupcakes are a timeless classic and quintessentially British. While they are perfect for beginners they also make great practice for the more advanced bakers among you. What’s great about them, is that they hardly take any time at all to make and are perfect for birthdays, hen parties or just a rainy day in. Luckily, with this vanilla cupcake recipe there couldn’t be a simpler way to appease your sweet tooth.

The ingredients in this recipe will make 3 cupcakes.

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Ingredients

50g self-raising flour

50g caster sugar

50g butter

1 egg

1-2 tbsp milk

A pinch of baking soda

Tip: weigh the egg(s) in the shell and use the same weight for each of the flour, sugar and butter.

Method

First, preheat the oven to 180°C (Electric oven | Electric fan oven 160°C | Gas Mark 4) and place paper cupcake cases into a muffin tin.

Using an electric whisk, food processor or a wooden spoon, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg, beating it well.  Next, gently fold in the flour. If the mixture is looking a little thick you can loosen it out with a splash of milk. Add a pinch of baking soda at this stage if you want your cakes to rise lightly.

Place the tin in the oven and leave for 20-30 minutes. After 20 minutes, check to see if the cupcakes are ready. To do this, simply insert a cocktail stick into one of the cupcakes – if it comes out dry cupcakes are done otherwise pop the cakes back in the oven for few more minutes.

Lift the cupcakes out of the muffin tin and leave to cool on a wire rack for a short while.

If you gave this recipe a go and liked it, why not also try our Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcake recipe?

[Image provided by Clever Cupcake ]

Want Your Team to be Chocolate Connoisseurs? Then come to our Corporate Events!

Let me take this opportunity to tell you about our corporate chocolate-making events. We may be a little biased (!) but we think there are no other team building activities in London quite like our chocolate making.

So, why would you choose chocolate making for your corporate event?

1. Chocolate and team building go hand in hand

They say a productive environment is a happy environment and the same rule applies to corporate events. The great thing about chocolate is that it makes us all happy. Just the smell of it releases theta brain waves, which help to reduce stress and anxiety.

Introduce this to a corporate environment and you’ll find people are much more likely to make new contacts, relax into a new team and improve existing business relationships.

What’s more, a messy chocolate workshop is far removed from the confines of the office. By getting stuck in and using your imagination with your chocolate creations, the workplace boundaries will be broken in no time.

2. You get to learn about the wonderful world of chocolate

Whether you decide to book one of our chocolate workshops or choose to go with a networking event, prepare to be transformed from chocolate lover to fully fledged cocoa connoisseur! Discover the history of chocolate and the process from bean to bar. Samples are of course compulsory!

3. Business leaders agree

Most businesses agree that good team-building is a key part of any successful company.

In a team building environment, goals are clearly laid out and collaborated on within the whole group. With the right amount of support and feedback, each team member will fully understand the objective and expectation placed upon them. This in turn means all team members have a vested interest to successfully complete their task and help the group.

4. Feel good factor

When a team building task is successfully completed, a feel good factor filters through a group. This feeling comes from a shared sense of accomplishment. This can be very powerful for business as it breeds a winning mentality which becomes addictive.

5. Above all else – trust!

Trust is a key element to working relationships; both business and personal. Team building exercises ensure a lot of trust is placed in both team leaders delegating tasks and team members carrying out those tasks. Once trust within a team has been established and strengthened through positive feedback as well as constructive criticism, it can easily be transferred to a working environment.

Check out our unique team building activities for more information!

MyChocolate’s Indulgent Guide to Chocolate – Infographic!

 

We hope you enjoy this chocolate infographic! Feel free to share it or use the code to embed it on your own blog!

 

MyChocolate’s Indulgent Guide to Chocolate – Text Version

Chocolate doesn’t make the world go round…but it certainly makes the ride worthwhile! Over the last century chocolate has become one of the most loved foods on the planet and has been scientifically proven to be good for your head and your heart. Frankly, we don’t quite know where we’d be without the stuff. In fact, we love it so much we thought we’d whip up some chocolatey facts and share a few of our favourite workshops with you. Bon appétit!

A CHOCOLATEY HISTORY

1400AD the Aztec empire traded cacao beans with the Mayans.

Residue of cacao drinks have been found at archaeological sites around Central America dating back to 2000BC.

The first solid chocolate bar was created in 1847.

The Spanish explorer Hernandez reported what cocoa beans were worth:

100 beans could buy you a turkey or a slave
10 beans could buy you a prostitute
4 beans could buy you a rabbit dinner

3 MAGIC COCOA BEANS

FORASTERO – The main bulk bean, accounts for over 90% of all beans produced. It has a clean chocolate flavour with low acidity.

CRIOLLO – Treasured for its complex, fruity flavour. It is very susceptible to disease and accounts for less than 1% of world cacao.

TRINITARIO – A fusion of the two strains, Trinitario combines the best of both – good flavour and dyield. Accounts for around 5-8% of the world’s cacao production.

IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that help reduce blood pressure.

Eating dark chocolate every day reduces the risk of heart disease by one third.

The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which trigger relaxation.

Chocolate has an anti-bacterial effect on the mouth and protects against tooth decay.

YOU WON’T BELIEVE…

Chocolate magnate Milton Hershey cancelled his reservations to travel on the Titanic due to last minute business matters.

The world’s largest chocolate bar weighed 5,792KG.

Research published last year showed high correlation between a nation’s chocolate intake and the number of Nobel prize winners.

The inventor of the chocolate chip cookie sold the idea to Nestle Toll House in return for a lifetime supply of chocolate.

UNIQUE WORKSHOPS

ORIGINAL – Indulge yourself in our Original Chocolate Workshop and create your own personalised chocolate treats. The chocolate workshops are great for both individuals and group special occasions.

CHOC-TAILS – Get your girls together to enjoy your very own choc-tails, that’s chocolate vodka martinis where even your glass is drizzled in chocolate! Our chocolate making workshop will be a hen party to remember!

MADE TO MEASURE – Looking for that perfect event? One that meets your budget, group size and taste? MyChocolate have created innovative and indulgent events for small businesses, blue chip companies and private clients.

GET MAKING!

CHOCOLATE MAKING FOR EVERY SPECIAL OCCASION

Our unique workshops are ideal for treating corporate clients, building a great team, planning an indulgent hen party or the perfect gift experience.

We were the first chocolate events company in the UK. Nine years on and we’ve run events for 109,097 people!

We use organic chocolate in all of our workshops.

We run our chocolate making events in London, Manchester and Brighton.

Building a Team is Like Building the Perfect Chocolate Recipe

One of the things we love about making chocolate is the similarity it shares with teambuilding. You see, they both require a certain degree of care and the right blend of ingredients in order to produce a winning recipe.

As with any activity, it always begins
with some good old fashioned planning.

For anyone arranging a teambuilding task, the important thing to consider is why it is needed in the first place. Of course, there could a whole host of reasons to team build, from introducing a group to each other for the first time, to improving the communication within an existing team, to simply teaching colleagues a new skill.

The same goes for making chocolate

Before even a spoon is licked, you’ll need an underlying reason to don your apron. This is why there is usually a theme for chocolate-making activities. Are you treating a bride-to-be to a hen party? Perhaps you’re showing your Valentine your true love for chocolate? Or maybe you want to mix things up with a choc-tail party?

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Okay, so once you’ve got your plan together you can begin to mix your ingredients. For team building, these are the members of your group and much like following a recipe, there is certainly an art to this.

The trick lies in getting the right balance between your team members, too many cooks spoil the chocolate fondue so to speak. Likewise, if the task involves presenting in any way, you’ll also want to make sure you don’t fall victim to the ‘style over substance’ trap. This is why good teambuilding disperses a good mix of logical and creative thinkers within a team – with each member playing to their own particular strengths.

In order to catch this balance, you need a team leader in charge who understands these strengths and will delegate the tasks accordingly. Once you have people in their best positions, it’s time to pour in some hard graft, mix together with good communication and of course add a splash of creativity. Keeping each team member happy is important – you don’t want to be left with a bitter taste in your mouth, likewise don’t work them too hard or they will burn out. A team that works together in unison is a wonderful thing to behold, and as soon the task nears completion you can sit back and apply the finishing touches.

 

Chocolate making is a similar alchemic process. However, instead of a team leader you have a head chocolatier; one who also has a clear plan in place, who understands the right balance of ingredients (how many cocoa nibs are needed again?) and who possesses the finesse to produce artistic flourishes.

So there you have it, teambuilding is like creating the perfect chocolate recipe – the end product being just as sweet. And in our opinion, what better way is there to build a team than by making chocolate together!

[Images provided by Moyan Brenn ]

10 of the Best Team Building Ideas

We’ve previously talked about why team building is great for business, so today let’s have a look at some of the best team building ideas that are out there. If you’re looking for ways to bring a group together, look no further!

Tug of war

A simple one to start off with. Tug of war has been played for centuries and has never failed to arouse team spirit – it is essentially team competitiveness in its most basic form. What’s more, it’s affordable and straightforward to organise – all you’ll need is 2 teams, a rope, and a big enough space and you’re good to go.

Apprentice-style tasks

Due to the popularity of the TV show, there’s been an epidemic of Apprentice-style team building events. In fact, we’ve found our own Apprentice Challenge to be one of our most popular activities. Much like the TV show, teams must work together to come up with a product which they then present to a judge (who’s hopefully a bit less aggressive than Sir Alan).

Zip lining

Always popular for teambuilding, zip lining is a great excuse to get your fellow workmates outdoors. With the wind sailing through your hair the office couldn’t seem further away – just hope that the weather holds up!

2 lies, 1 truth

This is more of an exercise than an activity, but it is a perfect ice-breaker for groups who’ve just met. The objective is to tell the group 3 statements about yourself with only one of them actually being true. Not only are you forced to think outside of the box, but you also learn personal stories you might never have discovered otherwise.

Cocktail making

Another team building event for the creative at heart – you’ll find as the cocktails flow so will the conversation. But why not combine cocktail-mixing with chocolate? Our mouth-watering choc-tails are to die for and no that’s not just the booze talking!

Flash mobbing

You’re probably already aware of flash-mobbing; it’s when a group of people suddenly gather in a public space to perform a pre-rehearsed routine, usually a dance or a song. This is a relatively modern team-building event but it’s been found to be so effective that it’s now used by top companies like Google, Coca-Cola, Disney and Ford.

Climbing/abseiling

One of the main purposes of team building is to build team trust and what better way to do that than by placing your life in the hands of a colleague!

Scavenger hunts

Scavenger/treasure hunts come in various forms and guises but are usually based around a theme – for example, hunting pirate treasure or orienteering in woodland. Scavenger hunts are great for improving a group’s problem-solving skills and they also require excellent communication between  individual team members.

Clay-pigeon shooting

People love to shoot things. Fact. People dislike pigeons. Fact. What better way to bond with colleagues than to collectively take your anger out on clay versions of these winged beasts?

Chocolate making

You probably saw this one coming, but in our opinion chocolate making is the best way to bring a team together. It’s messy, it’s fun and it’s delicious – what more could you possibly want from a team building task!

Every Team is Unique – You Need a Unique Team Building Activity

All too often team building activities get a bad rep; employers worry activities will be a waste of time.

In our experience, the only time team building days don’t work, is when the wrong activity is chosen.  In order to select the right activity, the purpose of the event needs to be decided before embarking on team building.

Step 1: The Purpose

Take time to consider what you are aiming to achieve. For example, are you looking to:

  • Integrate a new team
  • Treat your team to an office day out
  • Improve relations between departments
  • See how your team works with one another
  • Discover how your team works under pressure
  • Celebrate alongside your team
  • Teach everyone a new skill
  • Watch your team take on new roles by putting those who are more inclined to be followers in to leadership positions.

 

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Step 2: Made to Measure

Once the purpose of your team building activity has been decided and you have a clear idea of your aims, the next step is to find a company who can create an event to match your goals.

Here at MyChocolate, we firmly believe one size doesn’t fit all! The majority of our clients have tailor made workshops. Sometimes this is as simple as creating an activity to meet a specific time and budget. On other occasions we build full day events so managers can see how their employees work in different team configurations.

Case Study

Client: A City Law Firm

The Background: The firm recently went through a merger.

The Purpose: To build relations between colleagues and teach everyone a new skill.

The Team Activity: We offered a creative approach, focusing on a fun activity which would enable everyone to relax and enjoy one another’s company.

Guests learnt how to be chocolate connoisseurs, tasting chocolate from around the world and identifying different levels of cocoa. Everyone also learnt how to make and decorate their own handmade chocolates and flavoured chocolate slabs.

The Outcome: The event was memorable, fun (who doesn’t love chocolate!) and the new chocolate skills will certainly be discussed in the office.

During the workshop, employees took part in different activities; they worked in pairs, in small groups and with everyone at their table. This ensured interactions with different colleagues and there was plenty of time to get to know one another.

Feedback:  

“It was very informative, well-structured but done in a way that was really relaxing and fun”

“It was a great day out and everyone was able to take part and enjoy it”

“Greg [the Chocolatier] made me feel welcome and comfortable right from the outset. I had not met most of the team before and Greg made sure we had an opportunity to meet everybody. He was very confident with what he was doing and talking about and in turn that made me feel confident and comfortable”

To discuss your unique team building activity, Contact Holly on 0207 269 5760 or holly@mychocolate.co.uk.

 

[Image provided by Gail grated chocolate]