by AARON BREWINGTON
While team-building exercises may conjure up images of “trust falls” gone bad, the Bloomington Cooking School (BCS) has something a little more appetizing.
The cooking school, 115 N. College, Suite 014, offers group cooking courses as a non-traditional way to foster group collaboration. The idea for this creative learning experience came to BCS co-owner Jan Bulla-Baker a decade ago.
Though not trained in team building, Bulla-Baker is trained in the kitchen and she saw the potential for creating team-building experiences based on the ways in which people interact when they create a meal.
“When you’re in a group cooking dinner for people, you divide up the work and everyone contributes part of the meal that is shared,” Bulla-Baker says. “As they work, you see the dynamics within the groups form. Some people take leadership roles while others help out. The team building kind of just happens by default.”
Sitting down afterward to share the meal is just icing on the cake. “You are learning about each other and eating together,” she says. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
After setting up cooking classes for international companies like Catalent and Cook Medical, Bulla-Baker says some of the biggest successes happen when executives from all over the world come together to learn cooking techniques with people from different cultures.
“They don’t know each other and have very different backgrounds, so this is a great way to get to know each other,” Bulla-Baker says. “Everyone’s palette is different, yet you have to come to a consensus on the final outcome. You get to know each other in a totally different way when you cook with them. It gives you a lot of perspective.”
The classes, which generally last about two hours (90 minutes to make the meal and 30 minutes to eat it), work for a variety of different groups and organizations. Bulla-Baker can develop classes for all skill levels. Recipes are streamlined and most of the prep work is done ahead of time. Cost depends on the menu.
Visit bloomingtoncookingschool.com f or more information.