Breaking bread together may be the best way to bond a team—and yes, it is possible in the time of social distancing. These virtual cooking classes and other food-based experiences can unite a team across the miles, offering a fun, interactive, and memorable option for team building, holiday parties, and other private events.
Ever wanted one of the world's most famous chefs to cook you dinner? Now it's possible (well, almost) with Wolfgang Puck Catering’s new virtual, interactive cooking experiences. The online events can feature several of the catering company's acclaimed chefs—including Wolfgang Puck himself, who for $8,000 can host a 90-minute cooking demo and Q&A for as many as 20 virtual participants. Other chefs, such as vice president of culinary Eric Klein (pictured) or executive pastry chef Garry Larduinat, can lead classes for $2,500. Premeasured and hand-packed ingredients can be shipped anywhere in the continental U.S. or are available for pick-up or delivery in Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Boston, and Philadelphia.
Sidewalk Food Tours, which typically operates in-person experiences in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other cities, has launched a virtual cooking competition for groups. How it works: Sessions kick off with an interactive ice breaker, and then teams are sent to breakout rooms to make a cooking plan. Back in the main "kitchen," a live chef will lead teams in the cooking of a complete meal and sprinkle in various challenges, trivia questions, tips, and kitchen scavenger hunts—all with point prizes. After the buzzer, a representative from each team will show off their creation and express why they should win. Groups can be mailed ingredients in advance, and the Zoom-based classes, which do not have an attendance cap, cost $960 for 90 minutes or $1,160 for two hours. Sidewalk Food Tours is also hosting a popular virtual mixology class that costs $45 per person.
Food tour company Local Food Adventures has launched a delicious new offering: virtual ice cream socials for private groups. An expansion of the company's new Local Love Gift Boxes, which offer themed gifts from Bay Area businesses, participants can each get the Sweet & Smiles ice cream box that includes the ingredients needed to make their own Rocky Road ice cream. (Think unsalted almonds, mini marshmallows, and even a custom metal ice cream scoop.) The experience can host as many as 99 guests and includes a one-hour password-protected Zoom event where guests will get a history tour of the Oakland-created flavor, plus trivia games and a fun "create your own flavor" contest.
Missing those team happy hours? Organize a personalized virtual mixology class, hosted by rum experts from Puerto Rico's Casa Bacardi distillery. For groups as large as 100, expert mixologists demonstrate how to craft rum-based cocktails including mojitos, piña coladas, or coquitos. To ensure guests have all the necessary ingredients, Casa Bacardi will deliver a custom Bacardi shaker, muddler, jigger, and strainer; customized labels can also be added to rum bottles for a limited time. Classes cost $75 per person.
For the beer lovers, City Brew Tours hosts interactive craft beer experiences via live video conference. A fun, unique option is the Live Homebrew Class, which mails guests a beginner's brew kit (pictured) with all the necessary materials, and a live instructor guides them through the process of brewing 2.5 gallons of their own beer. The class costs $135 per person (including equipment and ingredients), and can be customized for private groups. (Groups larger than 20 are typically split into separate Zoom calls to ensure hands-on interaction.) There's also a one-hour Beer & Cheese Pairing Experience, which costs $200 for a group of 10; for an extra fee, City Brew Tours can deliver boxes of beer, artisan cheeses, chocolate, smoked meats, and swag to each guest.
U.K.-based Supper Stars is an international community of professional chefs, and in April it launched an online team-building option for remote groups. Participants can cook one or more recipes live with their designated chef, who shares tricks and tips along the way. Options range from simple courses to restaurant-style challenges for groups of all abilities, and at the end of the class, groups can sit down and eat their dishes together—virtually, of course. Participants are also encouraged to photograph their dishes to share with one another, and Supper Stars can even run a "best plating" award for groups with a competitive spirit. The company works with more than 100 professional chefs in over 40 countries, offering a range of language options and cuisine styles. Additional virtual offerings include one-on-one private sessions, family cooking classes, and more.
Cuiline offers live, virtual cooking classes for small groups, meetings, and conferences; the company launched in August and is helmed by Access Culinary Trips CEO Tamar Lowell. Available on Zoom, the virtual session offers professional moderation by a U.S.-based virtual kitchen assistant, multiple branding opportunities, and more. An added bonus? For corporate groups, Cuiline can deliver premeasured boxes with ingredients. Pricing, including all ingredients, is $175-per-person for groups larger than 25, or $195 for groups of 10 to 25 participants. Event hosts also have the option to add gift cards to cover any additional shopping needs—or a nice bottle of wine, of course.
Evoke some nostalgia with Tiny Campfire, a virtual team-building service modeled after summer camp. Each 90-minute virtual gathering is run by a "camp counselor" and includes icebreaker questions, themed trivia and games, historic ghost stories, and—best of all—an at-home s'mores-making experience. The event can accommodate groups of any size, and each attendee is mailed a kit with a candle, wood matches, s'mores ingredients, and other essentials. The experience is operated by Covington, Wash.-based company TeamBuilding, known for its popular Museum Hack tour.
Bring a James Beard Award-nominated chef in your team’s homes with HUNGRY Xperience, a new service that offers one-hour virtual classes with Top Chef finalists, Food Network champions, and even Will Smith's former private chef. Classes, which are hosted on Zoom and have no attendance cap, start at $1,000. To enhance the experience, all participants can be mailed a curated, custom-made gift box, ranging from $50 to $100 per person; delivery options include ravioli- or sushi-making kits, ingredients for a summer barbecue, wine bottles for a virtual tasting, and much more. There are even options to deliver branded cheeseboards, aprons, tote bags, or kitchen utensils.
This story first ran on our sister site BizBash here.