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Corporations Cook Up Teamwork In The Kitchen

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At a time when companies are down-sizing due to a tough economy, a culinary school in Lower Manhattan continues to flourish. NY1's Lindley Pless filed the following report.

Suzie O'Rourke of Cooking by the Book believes that the kitchen is no longer a place for just homemakers and professional chefs. In fact, her culinary school has been opening their doors to businesses across the city.

"Corporations come here to cook together, to eat what they've prepared, and to share an experience that they wouldn't normally have had," said O'Rourke. "And in a time when people are being let go and teams are shorter and smaller, this culinary program is more important because it fosters teamwork."

So while some companies gear their corporate events towards athletics, O'Rourke says that food is more effective in bringing people together.

"Not everybody is physical — not everybody can do the rock climbing, not everybody can do golf, or sport events like that," said O'Rourke. "But, everybody can eat."

Fitness Magazine has been planning events with Cooking by the Book for years, and recently hosted one last week for 30 of their clients and employees.

"It's just a very intimate way to interact because I think it really brings the pages of the magazine together for us because it's recipes that are right out of the magazine," said Amy Simmons of Fitness. "It really reinforces one of our pillars, and that is food and healthy eating."

Simmons said the event is structured in a way that allows everyone to get involved. First, there is a cocktail hour, which allows the team to enter into a comfort zone. Then, it's off to the kitchen, where they break into teams to cook with trained professionals. Finally, they sit down to dinner to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Simmons said Fitness will continue to work with Cooking by the Book because it gives them a chance to continue developing skills outside of their work environment.

"Any time you have people out of the office and you're working in a different way than you usually do on a daily basis, new things emerge that you wouldn't ordinarily see," said Simmons. "But a different kind of activity brings that out and gives you insights that you can actually turn around and build on and use when you're back in the office."

Other places that offer similar ideas include The Institute for Culinary Education, Cooking with Class, Pete's Eats, and the Culinary Loft.

Corporations are welcome, but they are also perfect for other special events like bachelorette parties, birthdays, and anniversaries.

- Lindley Pless
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