Happy Bellies Happy Teams

No doubt, food binds us all and some of the most memorable gatherings are so because they offer a great dining experience. Culinary-themed activities that bond teammates and break the ice for newbies are not a new concept, but as time goes by, fresh and interesting spins on such programmes have emerged. TTGmice reporters sniff out what’s cooking for corporate groups here in Asia

A pressure cooker

Organiser: Amari Watergate Bangkok

How this is served: Amari Watergate Bangkok’s newest teambuilding activity, the Corporate Cook Up, is one hot hell of a pressure cooker as teams of eight to 10 pax are cajoled by an MC and a chef to prepare six different Thai dishes, each within 12 minutes. While half of the teams cook, the other half work on other challenges such as fruit carving, table setting, place card writing (in Thai) and flower arrangement. The pressure of cooking and presenting a meal is designed to bring them together, stimulate creative thinking and improve leadership skills – not to mention participants learn to cook authentic Thai dishes.

Available for morning or afternoon sessions, the activity can even include scripting and recording a radio ad to promote the food. Prices start from 3,500 baht (US$99) per person. The package includes an English-speaking MC, chef, cotton chef aprons as keepsakes, chef hats, cooking ingredients, utensils, a team cookbook with step by step instructions and recipes, cooking venue and refreshments.

Where: A cooking venue within the hotel

Capacity: 20 to 150 people

Duration: Three hours

Contact: david.barrett@amari.com / (66 02) 653-9000


Celebrity dash

Organiser: Celebrity chef Emmanuel Stroobant

How this is served: For a real taste of what it’s like to work under a celebrity chef, head to Saint Pierre restaurant, where Emmanuel Stroobant – who has multiple awards and books under his belt – puts aside his kitchen tools for a moment and consults with corporates the values they hope to foster. Values can include better planning, communication, crisis management, time management, multitasking and teamwork. He then whips up a specialised cooking programme, conducted in a professional kitchen shift setting at his very own restaurant, Saint Pierre.

Participants are assigned different kitchen tasks where the aim is to prepare a three-course dinner, just as how chefs in a real gourmet restaurant kitchen function.

The cost of S$1,000 (US$720) per person (half-day) and S$1,500 per person full day may sound as fat as foie gras, then again, how often does a star-studded chef open his kitchen to outsiders? Wouldn’t it be exciting to get real tips on gourmet cooking while fostering team bonding?

Where: Saint Pierre restaurant’s kitchen

Capacity: Eight to 14 people; senior management level or heads of department only

Duration: Half-day (four hours including one meal) or full day (eight hours including two meals)

Contact: info@saintpierre.com.sg /(65) 6438-0887


What’s the most memorable food-themed corporate group activity for you?

“ CIBTM 2015’s ice breaker function at the brand new luxurious NUO Hotel, Beijing in early August. In line with NUO’s brand identity, attendees got to taste some of Europe’s finest gourmet ingredients and watched the hotel’s experienced chefs demonstrate their culinary skills with accompanying special effects. 
Some of the creations that are still fresh in my mind were the watermelon cubes and raspberries immersed in dry ice, intricately hand-sliced Spanish and Italian prosciutto, melted Swiss raclette cheese with potato hash, freshly smoked raw salmon paired with lemon bitters shots, and poached salmon with fish roe served in a mini ice-cream cone. Other pricey gourmet heavyweights included foie gras, caviar and assorted fine cheese.
This event was memorable because it was a really expensive experience and attendees waxed lyrical about it for a long time to come. Moreover, the dishes featured were seldom seen and tasted by the predominantly Asian audience.”
Lee Choon Loong
CEO and president
DiscoveryMICE Malaysia


Master the Singapore Sling

Organiser: Raffles Hotel Singapore

How this is served: Celebrate the legendary Singapore Sling originally created at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon – by learning how to create the iconic cocktail. Bartenders from Long Bar will disclose the secrets behind making the perfect tipple with splashes of gin, Dom Benedictine and Cointreau. Food and drinks will be provided.

Long Bar, on at the second storey of Raffles Hotel Singapore

10 to 50 people

One hour



What’s the most memorable food-themed corporate group activity for you?

“We organised a TIC Kitchen Competition with teams from different departments. Participants were challenged to make dishes with a tight budget. Although cooking wasn’t everyone’s forte, they worked together and came up with fantastic ideas. The activity motivated teamwork and innovation and (fostered a) can-do spirit.”

Quince Chong
Chief corporate
development officer
CLP Power Hong Kong


Creative juices

Organiser: Team Building Asia

How this is served: This is a smoothie making workshop that requires teams to produce 12 new and exciting smoothies supported with marketing campaigns in order to save the company.

Within a tight time frame, teams put their imagination, flexibility, planning and communication skills to the test while having fun. Teams also get to taste their creations during the wrap-up and successful teams will have to blend internal communication, resource management, distribution and marketing skills. They will also quickly discover that they will have to collaborate internationally if they are to achieve their goal.

Where: Any indoor venue across Asia

Capacity: 24 to 200 people

Duration: 150 to 180 minutes

Contact: enquiries@teambuildingasia.com/www.teambuildingasia.com


Pub crawling Japanese-style

Organiser: Fascinating Holidays, Singapore

How this is served: This is an activity that brings teammates together over a tipple or two and local dishes, while giving them a view into the lively izakaya culture. The izakaya is a traditional Japanese bar where food and drinks are served, and is loved by locals for celebrations, friendly get-togethers and quick after-work drinks.

The izakaya tour, run by a Bar Hopping Master who is fluent in English even after consuming a considerable amount of alcohol, visits two or three izakayas, depending on the programme chosen.

Where: Ueno district, Tokyo, Japan

Capacity: One bar master can take a group of up to 10 people

Duration: Two hours


Embark on a dessert safari

Organiser: Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre

How this is served: The concept leverages on the insight that good food is a terrific catalyst for bringing people together. Following a Safari Map which “gamifies” the event, guests are enticed to strategise their routes to sample as many desserts as possible. Dessert Stations offer ready-to-go items as well as chefs preparing treats à la minute, creating an experiential event that engages all five senses.

Where: Any venue within Suntec Singapore

Capacity: Minimum of 100 pax for an optimal number of Safari Stations

Duration: One to two hours

Contact: sales@suntecsingapore.com/(65) 6337-2888


Get behind the bar for a day

Organiser: The Langham Hong Kong

How this is served: Mixologist Rajendra “Rush” Limbu will demonstrate to the group how to create cocktails. Participants work together to decipher the ingredients and attempt to replicate his creations using the same ingredients before conducting a blind taste test to see which is most like the original. Recipes are provided at the end of the class for delegates to make the drink at home.

Where: The Artesian bar, although other venues within the hotel can be offered

Capacity: A minimum group of 10 people

Duration: Flexible, but non-peak hours and weekdays are preferred

Contact: (852) 2378-9324/tlhkg.sales@langhamhotels.com


What’s the most memorable food-themed corporate group activity for you?

“ When I first joined InterContinental Singapore, I was looking for an engaging platform to network with my team. I had to organise a teambuilding session within two weeks. Based on the hotel’s brand positioning around the arts and heritage precinct of Bugis, Food Playground created a menu of locally-inspired dishes like kueh dadar (sweet coconut stuffed pancake roll) which the team had a lot of fun putting together. More importantly, the session allowed me to interact with and get to know my team members better in a relaxed environment.”

Rex Loh
Area director of sales & marketing, Singapore
InterContinental Hotels Group

A royal culinary experience from a bygone era

Organiser: Ping Anchorage Travel & Tours, Malaysia

How this is served: In this teambuilding programme, the kingdom of Langkasuka which once ruled over Malaysia’s Terengganu, is recreated with food from ancient royal cuisine.

Conducted at Terrapuri Resort in Penarik, Terengganu, guests will go around the well-manicured garden where there are more than 100 types of vegetables to identify. Plucking of the necessary ingredients for the cuisine will also be done. They will then be taught to cook a few simple dishes, before dinner is served in the courtyard with Mak Yong, a royal dance performance from the olden days. Guests also have a chance to play musical instruments like the gamelan and learn the dance.

This is an exciting programme as it recreates the royal court in olden days and gives participants an insight of royal life in the past with an English speaking guide sharing stories about court life.

Terrapuri Resort has 22 villas, with architecture resembling old Malay palaces.

Where: On the resort’s grounds

Capacity: Maximum 80 people

Duration: Four hours

Contact: sales@pinganchorage.com.my/Pinganchorage.com.my


Island cooking escapade

Organiser: Cookery Magic, Singapore

How this is served: Conducted in a 100-year old kampong on the rustic island of Pulau Ubin, off Singapore’s coast, participants will literally get in touch with the roots of the island by harvesting herbs directly from a garden. Cooking will also be done in the garden, and participants will learn how to make the little known Malay dish, nasi kerabu (herbed rice) as well as sambal belachan (chilli paste) and butter prawns.

Where: Pulau Ubin, which is accessible via a 10-minute boat ride from Changi Jetty

Capacity: 20 to 80 people

Duration: Five hours

Contact: www.cookerymagic.com


What’s the most memorable food-themed corporate group activity for you?

“We recently created a Halloween-themed private event at our centre where we put together the creepiest-looking dishes from Eyeball Cake Pops and Tomb Desserts to Blood Shooters. We had all the equipment and facilities to make the special effects happen. The food was exquisite and innovative. Most of all, we had a lot of fun.”

Arun Madhok
Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre


When food and art collide to create a masterpiece

Organiser: The Stones – Legian, Bali

How this is served: Meeting delegates will be placed into groups and participants from each team will draw on a large paper canvas while being blindfolded. Participants will draw according to instructions and participants will take turns at completing the artwork. The team that creates the most beautiful piece wils a prize.

Good team work is required to complete this activity as the blindfolded member needs to trust his/her group mates’ instructions while at the same time blocking out voices from competing groups.

The fun part of this activity is that instead of using real paint, participants will use ketchup, mustard sauce or cupcake icing that come in paint tubes.

More than just a refreshing teambuilding activity, this works as a fun alternative to the usual meeting break. The meeting room or coffee break area, will be transformed into an Andy Warhol-esque studio called The Factory. Foods are displayed in containers shaped like paint cans, while sauces are presented in tubes. Ladders and artist palettes are used in serving canapés. Completing the art studio look, banquet staff are dressed in white jackets with paint stains.

Where: Hotel’s function rooms

Capacity: 10 to 30 people

Duration: At least 30 minutes

Contact: sales@stoneshotelbali.com/www.stoneshotelbali.com


Kitchen adventure

Organiser: The Westin Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

How this is served: Pots, Pans and Palate is an innovative culinary teambuilding programme that promotes creativity, communication and teamwork by having people working together to create delicious dishes.

Participants will be divided into groups and each team will have to prepare a two- or three-course menu, supervised by a chef.

The kitchen will be set up like a marketplace where participants can grab the necessary ingredients for the recipe, and dash off to their cooking stations. Obstacles and surprises can be introduced into the programme to make it more exciting.

Variations of this programme can also include Superfoods-themed menus and a nutritionist providing a talk on healthy eating.

Where: Pool area

Capacity: 10 to 30 people

Duration: Three hours

Contact: Lenny.tan@westin.com/www.westin.com/kualalumpur


What’s the most memorable food-themed corporate group activity for you?

“ Member chefs had to cook a giant paella for 1,000 people to the beat of the drum while at Madrid Fusion Manila 2015 in April. It was to raise funds for the non-profit Sociedad Espanola de Beneficencia.
I loved it for bringing us chefs together as a team to do something different for a cause, something that we haven’t done before. I love the end result – a giant paella that tasted so good even we ourselves were surprised.”
Jerome Valencia
Les Toques Blanches
Philippine Chefs Association
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