“…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” ― Julia Child, My Life in France

I love enthusiasm.  It is infectious.  Not everyone is born to be loud, extrovert and crazy – but there are those who live life that way and when I see them in a crowd I note how contagious their positive energy is.

This happened tonight.  I hosted a function and there was one participant who was ecstatic about life.  She had the largest smile and the biggest exclamations and I loved her.  She drew people in and I bounced off her – every crowd needs her!

When I showed the group how to crush garlic with a fork – she exclaimed “That’s it – I have already learned the most important fact for tonight.”

When I revealed how you can peel a knob of ginger with a spoon in seconds , she almost screamed with excitement.

The faces of those around her relaxed.  The mood shifted into laughter and fun and I applauded her for her positive spirit.

Then came the ginger rice and she was on cloud nine.  Wash, wash, wash – this is the key I emphasised.  When I explained you should really wash it around 10 times I could see the fatigued expressions.  But hers showed interest – a kind of “I really wonder if you are right” type of face.  When the fragrance of the rice filled the room and it perfectly formed on the plate “fancy” style – she was enraptured with the idea.

In fact, it got to the point I realised the crowd was loving the demonstration but itching to cook. And by the time we had produced dumplings and steamed chilli fish, it was game on.

The teams were set and the adventure began.  Rice washing was performed with skill by some, though others sent their rice down the sink with the water!

Dumpling dough was squeezed and pummeled by some teams whilst others kept sinking their flour in an ocean of salty water.  Timing was an issue.  Some teams worked simultaneously on separate tasks, others seemed determined to be a part of every step.  Somehow though, they seemed to make the count down.  Though a VERY SLOW count down it was!!!

The results were extraordinary.  The vocal enthusiast was in raptures to have produced three stirling plates of food.  Others produced their food on the wire – but looking good.  All teams were proud and so they should have been.

I mentioned more than once that MasterChefNZ is looking already at Season 5 applications and pairs are the name of the day!

Judging.  Ahhhhh I love being on the other side.  It is so much easier.  Until you have to actually judge!!!  This is a team building exercise.  It is a corporate customer night.  It is for fun.  Yet, in front of me are anxious faces.  People trying to read what I am writing over my shoulder.

The customers are not even aware there is a prize at this stage, yet they are passing wine my way; displaying their food with Champagne in hope for a special mark towards their dish.  It is at this moment I truly appreciate the hard task that the Judges on MasterchefNZ have faced.  Not only, an enormous amount of food to consume (and this is GOOD food) but to make a decision and let people know who has surpassed the expectations.  At least I don’t have to eliminate anyone!!

So prizes are awarded.  And some are lucky enough to be heading down to Simon Gault’s Euro for a fabulous meal.  Others have scored some delicious Cellar Door Villa Maria wine.

But it wasn’t just about the winning. It was about being a part of the occasion, and as Theodore Roosevalt once said: “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure….than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

If you are considering a Corporate Team Building exercise with a difference, in the near future, contact me here.

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4 thoughts on ““…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” ― Julia Child, My Life in France

  1. Last Night was just Fabulous!!! Everyone really appreciated your time and you did a fantastic job! I learnt so much, especially about the Rice and PEELING GINGER!

    I may also treat my family to dumplings some soon!

  2. Vanessa, thanks so much for last night it was “such fun”! What a great evening with amazing food and wonderful people. I loved the fact you showcased your secrets to creating fabulous dishes and taught us tricks of the trade to making the most amazing food ourselves. Your infectious personality made it a really fun evening with lots of giggles. I’ve promised everyone I’ll do the next dinner party “masterchef” style! Kylee aka number one fan

  3. Thank you Vanessa for such an incredible evening. This was the best corporate team building event I have ever been too and will be in touch to organise one myself. We learnt so much and with such great company who could ask for more. I am going to be cooking your dumplings this weekend and am so looking forward to starting my journey as a cook as opposed to a “heater” hehe !!

  4. Hi Vanessa, what a fantastic event you hosted, thank you so much. And the food, they are to die for! I have learnt heaps. It was amazing to hear some of the tricks you were sharing with the group, small things about cooking rice or making dumplings. Those were the tricks I learnt from my parents and grand parents while growing up. Once again, thank you so much. Jackie

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