About a million years ago or so, some human ancestors learned to control fire and to use fire for cooking. This was The Mother of All Innovation, as it started us on the path to becoming human. (See our post: How Cooking Made Us Human) The point for this post is that cooking and innovation are essentially linked in our individual and cultural DNA.
The evidence is all around us: where is there more innovation than in cooking? Look at the number of cuisines, ingredients and preparations in the world; from frozen pizza to haute cuisine, the variety is astounding and still the innovations continue to come. And let’s not even talk about the gadgets!Lately it seems that everyone is talking ‘innovation’, but not many know how to do it. We’ve been having great success using structured team cooking experiences as a way of releasing the natural creativity that flourishes through cooking to inspire innovation in teams. In one approach, we start by introducing some familiar recipes, then turn them on their head with unusual ingredients, concepts and combinations. (Guacamole, Salsa & Chips Cocktail anyone?) After taking the participants through this experience, we engage the team to challenge their thinking by working together to produce their own innovative recipe. This seems to ignite a spark in teams – getting people thinking creatively, which is the first step to innovation.
You can hear more about our approach to innovation in this interview with our Executive Chef Victor Pisapia on Eagle Waves Radio Biz Health program:
And read about one example: the case study of a workshop we did for Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Australia. You can download the case study here: Case Study – VictorsFood and Sanitarium – Creativity and Innovation.
The important thing in running a team cooking workshop to inspire innovation is to make sure the facilitators are skilled Chef Presenters who are clear on the brief. A cooking school may sound like a good idea, but you can wind up with someone who is a poor group facilitator, an uninspiring teacher or who thinks it’s all about their food (or all of the above!). These common traits can actually squash innovation and creativity; at best you’ll wind up with an expensive corporate play date. After all, innovation isn’t something that comes from doing the ‘same old’.