Recipe for success

Mix a bunch of HR professionals, one Italian cookery school, half a dozen Personnel Today representatives, a few bottles of wine, lashings of enthusiasm and what do you get? A teambuilding challenge to savour.

Unlike the usual teambuilding fare of paintballing and go-karting, Italian Secrets Cooking School in Wandsworth offered Personnel Today the opportunity to take on a team of HR professionals in a cooking competition. An offer we duly accepted.

The HR team from Oxoid, a Basingstoke-based manufacturer of diagnostic products, which formerly produced the Oxo cube, was the lucky winner of our reader competition and sent five of its finest down to south-west London to face-off against the Personnel Today team.

But Italian Secrets owner Anna Venturi had a word of warning for those thinking they were in for a Ready, Steady, Cook-style experience. “Here, you will learn about proper cooking,” she said.

And so we were off. The task was to create a three-course meal, starting with crown of saffron rice with vegetarian ragout, followed by chicken rolls stuffed with sage and prosciutto and sauteed potatoes, and finishing off with chocolate roulade with raspberries.

Everyone set about their respective tasks enthusiastically – chopping, whisking and stirring – and the Pinot Grigio was flowing nicely, adding to the sense of bonhomie. One team member – who shall remain nameless – was taken to task for helping themselves to a bit too much wine.

Perhaps they should have locked the fridge

We all tucked in to the finished meal while the judges deliberated. They seemed to favour the starter and main course of the Personnel Today team and the dessert from Oxoid, but despite repeated pushing from Personnel Today editor Karen Dempsey, Venturi sat on the fence and called the competition a draw.

Pamela Mosby, senior HR adviser at Oxoid, said the cook-off was a novel approach to teambuilding. “Wine and sharp knives don’t normally go well together but in this case it was a great success,” she added.

Rob Willock, group editor at Personnel Today, said: “I’ve tried paintballing, blindfolded 4x4ing, clay pigeon shooting, raft building, go-karting and constructing towers out of flimsy drinking straws – all in the name of bonding with my colleagues, and all with varying degrees of success.

“So I can say with some authority that corporate cookery is a welcome addition to the choices facing a boss with a teambuilding mission. A great dollop of fun with lashings of teamwork.”

Win an Italian Secrets cookbook

Personnel Today has five copies of the book Secrets From an Italian Kitchen to give away.

For your chance to win, e-mail your name and job title to Put ‘Cookbook competition’ in the subject strap. The deadline for entries is 5pm, 25 October 2005. Normal rules and conditions apply.

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