2010 Nickelodeon Animation Studios – Team Building and BBQ Class

 Nickelodeon Studios on Olive Avenue, Burbank, Calif.

It was awesome to share our love for BBQ with the animators at Nickelodeon in Burbank, California. In June 2010, Slap Yo Daddy BBQ conducted a special evening event in Nickelodeon’s rear parking lot for forty talented Nickelodeon animators, staff, and management from hit series such as Kung Fu Panda, Sponge Bob, Penguins, and others. Spots for this event quickly filled up. Anticipation and buzz had been building in the studio for several weeks that there would be a celebrity Pitmaster coming to personally show them how to prepare championship BBQ followed by a BBQ dinner with all the trimmings.

Sponge Bob – one of the many Nick characters

Representatives from the various animation groups got a chance to put on gloves to prepare an award-winning BBQ rub, secret BBQ sauce, baby back ribs, and half chickens. Everyone had fun especially when it came to dusting the meat with the proper amount of rub and pulling off the rib membrane. They were shown the safe method to light briquettes and how to set up a Weber kettle properly for low and slow cooking. Everyone was fully engaged and asked many questions.

 Nick animators, staff, and management
Hands on activity in class
Animation teams showing off what they could do better!

Class was followed by a BBQ dinner with ribs, chicken, coleslaw, beans, cornbread. As a special treat, they also had our Slap Yo Daddy signature appetizer: Seared Ahi Tuna w Maui Onion Dressing. The BBQ was accompanied with beer pairings for each of the individual meats including the ahi. A dessert wine topped off the menu.

Specially developed beer pairings with each meat

As the sun set, everyone had full tummies and were beaming from ear to ear from the awesome time they had.  They learned BBQ secrets and commented that it was the best special event they had ever attended. That means we’re likely to be invited back in the future. More pitmasters to train to spread BBQ happiness!

Many thanks to Nickelodeon and to my assistants Chris Rocke and Benny Adauto who joined me in this fun event.

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EPILOGUE:   As I’m having my morning coffee in Maui writing this blog entry (I’m here for the Honokowai BBQ Throwdown), it dawned upon me that my love-child Slap Yo Daddy BBQ has crossed yet another milestone.  We’ve grown from catering events into designing corporate training sessions which embed corporation messaging.   In this case, it was for Nickelodeon University which is an internal program to develop staff and build camaraderie.

Corporate training and high-performance team building is another discipline I love.  I enjoyed Organization Behavior and Team Dynamics classes while I was in the MBA program at Cal Poly Pomona.   In my day job as a Program Manager, I oversee a team of certified project managers who work on a $35M portfolio of IT infrastructure and information security projects.  With a burn-rate of $100K per week, things can go wrong, and they go wrong fast; and I’m the one first in line for the rolled-up newspaper when things go awry.  It takes a lot of energy to build high performance teams and take the team through the four phases of team building: 1) teaming when they first come together, 2) storming where internal fighting often occurs, 3) norming where relationships are normalized and tension is defused, and 4) performing where everyone gets along and focuses on delivering results.

BBQ is an ideal pressure cooker to put corporate teams through the paces.  Imagine twenty team members convened for a special BBQ event where they are given BBQ instruction and then asked to deliver BBQ for judging in a white styrofoam box.  They are split into five-person teams and have to develop roles and responsibilities, strategy, sales pitch for their product, timelines (product is due in 5 hours), budget, scope, risk management, and quality management.  The learning and team building potential is going to be awesome.  Conflict resolution, project management, stress, EQ v IQ, team building, and many organizational dynamics topics could be covered within a day-long training session (especially if the CEO is on the judging panel).  The big plus, of course, is everyone has fun and it’s not another death-by-PowerPoint training seminar which many of us can relate to.  Stay tuned as I develop the course summary, detailed description, and pricing for these types of events.

 Gorgeous Maui Sunset