“Engagement” seems to be the buzz word du jour for the meeting industry. Studies have shown that people retain less from passive participation than they do from events where they are actively engaged.  There even are assumptions that engagement through innovation and unique activities are required to properly involve, corral, or otherwise inspire the involvement of the very busy multitasking members of your work team.

As a result, the basic format for many meetings is changing from a direct lecture style to one with interactive elements.

This theme has extended out of the meeting room and into the dining area.  Taco Bars, made to order omelets, and even a chocolate fountain are the “old school” ways that caterers added “action” and involvement to the dining portion of an event.

Interest in well know chefs and innovative cuisine have led to dinners that involve the blend of a cooking demonstration with a bit of try-it-yourself kitchen exercises during dinner creation.

Like these make and eat cooking classes, other food stations that allow customized concoctions that can fuel “what’s in that?” type of conversations have also become more popular.  Drink luges allow participants to choose their cocktail components that then are chilled in an ice slide.  Make your own granola breakfasts lets diners compare their own favorite combination of the latest super-food components with other participants.

Now some chefs have even found a way to make food interaction as part of the spectacle of the dining experience.  C2 Catering Couture in Toronto creates a Sugar Bubble dessert.  Guests get to use a hammer to crack open the shell to enjoy a fortune cookie and chocolate mousse.

It seems that now there are plenty of options for “user-generated” food experiences.  At your next meeting function, consider including one of these hands-on opportunities so that your guests can truly “go-gourmet”.