“Collaboration addresses challenges no one has overcome before”, Marcia Conner

When a corporate Business Manager went out on a limb to engage me for an in-house team build, I wanted to ensure that we wowed the whole team.  The entire Auckland office was to attend the event and it was to be a covert operation which would culminate in a surprise two hours on a Friday afternoon.

The directive for me was to create an event that would reflect some core values of the company:

  • Collaboration and co-operation
  • Passion for quality
  • Go for the goal

– and as these are values I share wholeheartedly, it was a missive that was a pleasure to work with.


Our event was to be in-house, within a board room and an annex and there were no cooking facilities.  And yet, we wanted to do a food inspired team build so it was going to require some inventive challenges.


With 7 teams of four locked in, I decided to create 7 food and beverage related stations where the teams would face taste tests and identification challenges.  Each team was given 5 minutes per spot before being propelled onwards to face the next challenge.  Teams were put through their paces, assessing with sight, taste and smell and quizzing each other as they tried to get their answers correct.

Following this segment, the teams were presented with a unique paper bag challenge which needed to be completed in a 20 minute time frame and using only what was provided on the board room table.  Everyone was immediately absorbed in their task of creating a dish using only the raw ingredients provided and an inspirational suggested recipe.  There was no way of cooking and yet the teams were abuzz with ideas of creating these unusual appetizers which they could ultimately enjoy with a late afternoon drink.

It was wonderful to see the intense engagement, conversation and team work that ensued.    For 20 minutes all team members were engrossed in their own task of presenting a dish for judging time.  The scores were already up on the leader board for the initial tests, so there was fierce competitive spirit as some teams realised this was their opportunity to even the playing field.

Eventually, astoundingly wonderful dishes were presented for appraisal.  When I realised we had a tie, we decided to do a last minute elimination challenge and using only left overs, each team needed to create a plate of something edible in just 5 minutes!!  One team rose to the challenge with finesse (obviously they are MasterChef NZ fans) and were the eventual winning team.

Without a doubt, the values of the company were well reflected in the spirit and commitment of each team member within their mini teams.  Beyond that, it was a fun filled event with laughter and enthusiasm.  This is a style of event I hope I will have the opportunity of re-creating for other companies who relish the same commitment and values as Sheffield’s Auckland office.


  •  Thank you very much for Friday.  Everyone had a fabulous time and are raving about the event today.
  •  Thanks for a value-laden event at Sheffield on Friday. It was a lot of fun, and a great way to get to know more about my colleagues, and to learn more about food.
  •  Thanks for the fun times Vanessa, super well organised as well!
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