Hey, it’s Bob … Jean doesn’t get to have all the fun! I wanted to tell you about a great time I had with a bunch of guys from work last night – we did a team building event at Woodhaven Farm, just north of Johnstown, OH.
Woodhaven Farm is the brainchild of Tami Cecil, ex-corporate type, stock broker, etc., and now chef and owner of the farm. She runs a cooking school and does cooking parties as well as the team building through cooking. Take a look at their website for more info: www.woodhavenfarm.com.
We started the evening with wine and beer (the Farm doesn’t have a liquor license, so we brought our own) and some simple snacks on the patio, chatting and plotting our strategies for the competitive events to come. We had 20 people, with a wide range of cooking skills and experience, divided into 4 teams.
After running us through some basic cooking and kitchen safety pointers, Tami told us that we were going to be doing a little Iron Chef action, with each team responsible for putting together an appetizer to serve 20 from a list of mystery ingredients, all in 15 minutes!
My team very quickly focused in on the beautiful big Portabella mushrooms that were part of the basket of ingredients. We sliced them and dropped them in a pan with some olive oil for a quick sauté, then deglazed the pan with red wine for some more flavor and color. After arranging the slices on a plate we spiced up the already excellent pesto in the basket with some chopped jalepenos and spooned a ring of it over the mushrooms, following that with a ring of roasted red peppers. Meanwhile, one team member was slicing up a baguette to run under the broiler, while another readied some fresh garlic to rub the on the toasted slices. Let me just say, these guys were on a mission! We called our dish “BTR”, sharing an acronym with a new product we are developing, but in this case it stood for Better Than the Rest! And, sure enough, when we came to Tasting and Judgment, Tami chose our dish as the winner!
We then moved back into the kitchen to prepare the rest of the meal, with each team responsible for two items. The menu included marinated, grilled chicken breasts, garlic smashed potatoes, sautéed French green beans, a lovely salad with mixed greens, bleu cheese, pecans and dried cranberries (along with some herbed croutons, freshly prepared by my overachiever team!). For dessert, one of the teams made individual molten chocolate cakes, garnished with whipped cream and a fresh strawberry!
The meal was great, and it seemed even better because we had put it all together. The conversations and interactions were also made even better by the teamwork and the friendly competition. This was a great evening -- I am already trying to figure out how we can get a group of friends to enjoy a visit to the farm. Maybe a cold winter night, with some hearty food and a fire in the fireplace!
11401 Woodhaven Rd.
Johnstown, OH 43031