Coworkers learn to bond through Emeryville cooking class

July 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's nothing like breaking bread to bring people together. A cooking school in Emeryville has seized on that thought and turned it into a delicious team building activity. The school is about more than just the food. They see their kitchen as a place where people can come together and bond around food and the dinner table.

The knives are sharpened, the chicken is sizzling and the laughs are plentiful at the Paulding and Company Cooking School in Emeryville. It's the brainchild of Chef Terry Paulding.

Companies send their employees there and by the end of the four hour class, the workers have gotten to know each other better and hopefully formed a more cohesive team.

"It's just kind of a little alchemy happens when you get a lot of people in the kitchen together making good food," said Paulding.

The day we visited a group of employees from LeapFrog were there learning how to prepare gourmet food.

Alan Abar is normally Angela Prendergast's manager at LeapFrog.

"But today I feel like I'm her sous chef," said Abar.

It's a role reversal Prendergast is thoroughly enjoying. She told us, "It's different and very fun since I know more about cooking than I think he does."

The day we visited everyone was getting instructions on the basics.

"You don't ever saw that knife, you just drop it through," said Samantha Smith from the Paulding and Company.

And they're being teased with dessert which is just a few steps away.

"We're going to heat the cream and the milk up. We'll have ice cream in no time," said Tracy Cates from the Paulding and Company.

Among those who have gone through this kitchen were hundreds of animators who worked on the Pixar classic, "Ratatouille."

"When I watched the movie, I see the difference it made because they really got the motions," said Paulding. She said the animators got both the motions and emotions right, all the way down to the egos. She laughed, "A lot of chefs do have big egos. And some of them are quite humble."

They'll be no eating humble pie in this class. Everyone is working towards a common goal -- preparing a five-course gourmet meal which they will all enjoy together. For these employees it's a nice diversion.

"We go into our cubicle environment. It's pretty insular. We're all busy. We keep our hands on the keyboard, eyes on the screens. We don't integrate too much. This it's been nice," said Jeremy Brautman from LeapFrog.

Before long, the soup is served. The main course is ready and they're fighting for more dessert.

"I feel a little bit closer to some of my co-workers, which is cool. I've gotten a chance to hang out and work with some of the folks that I don't usually work with," said Lovica Callisti from LeapFrog.

The fee for the team building cooking classes is $130 a person. The school also teaches a kids cooking class.


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