My Cooking Skills Are On A Roll
Several times a year, every team at Microsoft would host a “morale event”, which is a day off of work to focus on team-building skills through various activities. The OneDrive Service Engineering team announced that our event would be a cook-off challenge. All of my friends could tell you that my cooking skills are slim-to-none… unless, you consider microwaving frozen dinners or boiling water for ramen noodles as “cooking”.
The event took place at Blue Ribbon Cooking – a cooking school that holds group or team lessons. When we all arrived for the event, we were randomly split into two teams – southern foods & sushi. I was placed on the sushi team.
For the team-building portion, we were asked to brainstorm ideas for sushi flavors and toppings. The main focus of the exercise was to improve communication, so the chef would observe and analyze our ideas, but would not provide input or add suggestions. After several minutes of discussion, the team decided to go with a casual California roll. A California roll was perfect for was perfect for vegetarians, but for those who wanted meat, a California Roll was simple enough to add eel as the protein.
The first thing to do was to prepare the ingredients. The chef assigned people on the team to different tasks. One group prepared avocados, another stirred rice, and my group was responsible for wrapping and preparing the sushi. After learning how to balance out the perfect amount of rice onto the nori (seaweed), it was time to add the ingredients. I added several small pieces of eel, avocado, and carrots to the canvas of nori. Once that was ready to go, it was time to roll it up. In the past, I have also never been good at rolling up burritos, so this can’t go well, right? Sushi rolls end up being one long roll, and then spliced into eight pieces. Here was the result on my first try – not bad, right?
After the sushi was cut, we had to plate each entree. The shapes were not consistent, but why not make the most of it. I found a great way of plating it in order to “serve up smiles”.
An Outstanding Balance
That weekend, I was invited at the last minute to join a group to go stand-up paddle boarding. Having experienced challenges of standing on water skis or surfing in the past, I at first hesitated. However, many of my friends were able to successfully paddle board without falling in and reassured me that it is as easy as walking on land. So I signed up.
We all met up on a beach in Kirkland, just north of Bellevue. It was another sunny day that was not too hot, perfect for paddle boarding. I carried the board into the water and hopped on… well I wish I could say I did all of that easily.
I was able to kneel onto the board and start paddling away from the shore. As I stroke the oar, I could feel how cold the water actually was. Nothing is more chilling than falling into a cold body of water when completely dry. As I started to pull myself together to stand, I could feel the board shake beneath me. I immediately went back to my knees to prevent falling in. Little did I know, I had an audience watching me try to stand up – they were all watching me from their boats, a beer in their hands. Drunkenly, a crowd shouts “Come on! Stand up!” Oh great, now there’s peer pressure, I thought.
At that moment, I turned to my friend who tried standing up for the first time, and he fell into the lake immediately. Yeah… give me some more time, I told myself. Unfortunately, both of us were now the spotlight attraction on the lake, as everyone was observing our interaction with water physics.
Fast forward fifty minutes, and 6 rolls into the deep lake – I was finally able to stand up! As I kept paddling while standing, I shouted my friends’ names to show them that I can paddle board properly. Right as they turned to look, I lost my balance and fell in… they didn’t believe that I actually stood up.
Guess I should go back to practicing my balance skills on Wii Fit. After all, they offer yoga classes on a paddle board… I think I have found my new goal in life.