Driven by its catering arm, Smart Hospitality, the Cook Off has been developed for use as a team-building and networking exercise for businesses in the City. Implemented by leading experts in the UK’s hospitality scene, 32 leading firms will compete in a high octane knock-out kitchen format
Using a limited number of ingredients, teams will be challenged to use both creativity and cooperation to serve completed dishes to industry judges, including Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett. The competition will culminate in a live grand final in front of an audience of several hundred. Alongside the main competition, guests will be entertained by an Omelette Challenge, challenging them to create the perfect example in the quickest time possible, as well as being offered wine-tasting and a number of gourmet canapés.
The idea was conceived by CEO of Smart Group, Greg Lawson, and will be rolled out by Smart Hospitality’s Operations Director Richard Gee following a recent trial with nationally renowned business services company Grass Roots. 30 employees across 8 teams were given 20 minutes to transform an unknown bag of ingredients into a delicious dish, leading to a grand final between the strongest two teams. The finalists were given identical ingredients and challenged to create a two course meal. The winners cooked Chicken Jambalaya, followed by a Pimms and fresh mango sorbet palette cleanser and an impressive banana cheesecake with chocolate popping candy. As a prize, they were awarded a coveted Smart Hospitality Olive Wood Chopping Board and Champagne.
Recognising the growing trend of culinary challenges and increasing numbers of foodies working in the City, Lawson saw the opportunity to develop this product into a corporate team-building exercise: “Using food and cooking is a wonderful way to encourage employees to pull together and create something with creativity, organisation and drive. These skills are crucial in both the kitchen and the boardroom, and this is a fantastically fun way to work on key business abilities”.
Managing Director of Grass Roots, Jeremy Brown, said: “The Cook-Off was a roaring success: our aspiring chefs had a great time, and took real pride in creating something special for the judges. Our teams are spread out and rarely get to interact, so it was a great opportunity for colleagues from across the business to meet and bond in a fun, informal atmosphere over good food and wine”.
Smart Hospitality is part of Smart Group Ltd., and serves over 150,000 guests per year at a range of exceptional corporate, charitable and private functions; both in the UK and abroad.