Meeting Planning & Incentives

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The Yum Factor!

Blending culinary delights with a focus on team growth may well be the recipe for a successful offsite meeting. Here are some mouth-watering options from across the country.

1. A Treat-Filled Retreat
Whether it’s a cooking demo, facilitated culinary class or teambuilding exercise, Silver Springs Retreat in Flesherton, Ont. has been offering it up in good taste for more than 10 years. “We’re not your typical hotel or resort. We’ve always had a culinary backbone,” says general manager Andrew Exel. “We have a wood-fired oven that groups can use for a roasted chicken, homemade bread or personalized pizzas.” Meetings can be more formal in the property’s Red Barn Conference Centre, situated on 139 acres of gardens, paved pathways and waterfalls. Fifteen deluxe guest rooms seal the deal. silverspringsretreat.com

2. Back to School
At the Wine Country Cooking School, onsite at the award-winning Strewn estate winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., enjoying the fruits of labour is a tasty task with hands-on cooking classes. Groups from eight to 40 are guided through the process of cooking and consuming a three-course meal using seasonal, local ingredients—each matched with the perfect glass of wine. “There’s nothing like us in Canada,” says proprietor Jane Langdon. “It’s positive and highly social.” And with so many charming inns and hotels in this flourishing region, adding this tasty option as part of a two-day corporate retreat is possible and affordable.   winecountrycooking.com

3. Seclusion + Seafood
The only batteries being recharged at Trout Point Lodge and the Nova Scotia Seafood Cooking School are a group’s own. No cell coverage, no telephones, no TV. In exchange for forfeiting technology, meeting delegates escape to a secluded property steeped in Maritime hospitality and culture. Located on 200 acres of protected wilderness area, Trout Point, a brand new Relais & Chateaux member, offers groups of up to 14 the option of a customized cooking session or a full-day field trip to a local lobster pound and oyster farm. “Groups see how the seafood riches are grown and then bring them back and cook them in the kitchen,” says owner Charlie Leary.   troutpoint.com

4. Freestyle, with Vino 
In the heart of the Twenty Valley, between Hamilton and Niagara Falls, Ont., sits The Good Earth Cooking School & Food Company. Proprietor Nicolette Novak says programs are as organic as the facility’s natural surroundings. “We have no standard template for cooking demos, classes or teambuilding,” she says. In fact, Novak is not a big fan of teambuilding activities in their purest form, preferring instead to encourage groups of up to 14 to simply kick back. “Most groups have suffered through a full day of strategy sessions; by this point they are pretty much brain dead.” Good Earth is a working farm and vineyard, with a winery due to open this spring.   goodearthcooking.com

5. Teambuilding with Traction
“We’re a teambuilding company and we are mobile,” says Julie Burke, president and founder of Tall Order. The Delta, B.C.-based company offers an extensive roster of teambuilding programs with catchy names such as and “Peel The Artichoke,” which is a facilitated session that encourages participants to peel away the prickly parts of their characters to reveal the potential hidden inside. Whether your location is New York or New Mexico, Tall Order will serve it up to your specifications and on your turf.   tallorder.ca

By Sherryll Sobie

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