5 Ways to Use Food as a Team-Building Activity

Culinary challenges, tastings and charity efforts can satisfy everyone’s appetite

There are plenty of familiar ways to rally a crew and boost morale at your big meeting. But forget scavenger hunts and trust falls: Let’s talk about food. 

Whether you’re noshing together or using tasty treats in friendly competition, the shared experience surrounding food is a universal way to bond. (Be sure to ask about food sensitivities among guests in your planning stages, of course.) 

Consider putting one of these five ideas on the menu:

Host your own Cake Wars. There’s nothing sweeter than victory. Depending on space and budget, give attendees blank sheet cakes (or cupcakes, if you prefer) and prepare for a high-stakes decorating battle. Provide an arsenal of frosting, fondant, sprinkles and other edible accents. To up the challenge, give competitors a theme tied to your meeting, mascot or mission statement.

Tap a brewer (or sommelier). If you’re comfortable serving alcohol, bring booze and brainpower together by hosting a local libations expert for a tasting session. Not only will guests have the chance to sample something new, they’ll learn fun facts about their favorite spirits—and, if the drinks were produced locally, the folks and facilities in town that produce them. 

Sign up for a cooking class. Sure, we all have our standby—if not ho-hum—recipes at home. A specialty cooking class can help your team members expand their horizons (and socialize while sautéing). Trained instructors can help participants master the basics of cuisines that many may not prepare at home: sushi, for example, or Spanish tapas for shared nibbling. 

Help feed the hungry. If the location and schedule of your event permits, shuttle attendees off-site to a local soup kitchen or food pantry for a few hours. Rolling up your sleeves to serve hot meals, sort canned goods or deliver gift baskets to the needy is a great way to nourish everyone’s do-good spirit and benefit the community hosting your guests.

Build a food tower. Test everyone’s engineering skills with a team challenge using wet and dry foods to see who can construct the tallest “building” in a given time span with items such as dry spaghetti, marshmallows, peanut butter, crackers and gummi candies. Height may be the winning factor, but you can also award prizes for creativity or architectural flair.