Food is the ultimate social catalyst: when we share a meal, we connect with others and when we prepare that meal together and then consume it or offer it to each other, that connection is strengthened exponentially. This is why team building activities that involve food are among our all-time favourite ones. From show-cooking to wine and cheese tastings, from team cooking to corporate barbecues: where there is food to share, a sense of community is created. And if you want to treat your team to an experience that revolves around food, there’s no better place to do that than Italy.
How food-based team building activities can help your business
Socialising around food, especially when learning how to prepare a particular meal, stimulates creative problem solving and analytical skills. Participants learn to define problems in a new context and to work towards specific results, learning processes they are not necessarily familiar with. Doing this as part of a team also means communicating and finding solutions, overcoming micro-conflicts and distributing tasks. More often than not, the problem with team building is that it fails to provide context. Exercises and activities can seem sterile and inauthentic and it can be hard to translate those experiences into usable office skills. Food, on the other hand, provides its own context. Exploring different culinary traditions means learning about cultures, customs, history and geography without even realising it. It is a rich and complex experience that is immediately converted into a physical (ideally enjoyable) one. Your employees might feel awkward playing tug-of-war or going on a treasure hunt in the office. But it’s hard for anyone not to be fascinated, for instance, by the incredible properties of olive oil, the complex procedures that go into making it, the ancient traditions it is connected to and the countless ways in which it can be used to turn any food into a sublime experience.
Learning new skills
Learning how to cook something new can be an exhilarating experience. It’s not just about learning skills that can be used in the workplace, it’s about acquiring knowledge that can actually be translated into everyday experiences, to be shared with friends and family, to be boasted about and converted into delicious meals. From a strictly professional team building perspective, these activities produce long-lasting results and have been proven to actually influence group dynamics, facilitating communication, stimulating creativity and easing tension around hierarchies and roles within the team. Cooking together means working toward the same goal and actually caring about the results, because each team member will be literally able to eat the goal.
In Italy, food is a deep-rooted and fundamental part of the culture – or, more appropriately, of the cultures. Every town and village, never mind every city and every region, is a rich and complex tapestry in which food and cultural traditions intertwine, shaping the local atmosphere, the regional character and even the scenery. If you decide to experiment with food-based team building activities in Italy, you will be able to go on experimenting virtually forever. From the vineyards of Piedmont to the ancient traditions of Salento, from the lemon-scented breezes of Campania to the central-European flavours of Trentino and Valle D’Aosta. Depending on your team members’ tastes and inclinations, you might decide to treat them to a crash-course in the art of wine-tasting in Tuscany or on a camping adventure in Sardinia, where they will learn to cook the famous (and delicious) Sardinian-style piglet. The possibilities are endless.