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International Medieval Congress lampost signage
A photograph taken at the public event at the International Medieval Congress
Staff Away Day

We are experts when we are organising your conferences and events, but how would we get on with our staff away day? Find out here…

Away-Day-Winners

Every January the staff members in the commercial arm of the University of Leeds get together to celebrate the successes of the previous year, give out the Spotlight Awards for outstanding contributions to the services, and most importantly play some games!

Obviously, it is the responsibility of the experts at MEETinLEEDS to organise the event; from booking the guest speaker and marketing the event to arranging the delicious lunch prepared by our talented team of chefs.

Over to Emma, Conference Sales Executive at MEETinLEEDS, with a breakdown of the morning activities:

“This year’s team away day took place on site at the University. Two venues were used over the day – The Refectory and the Rupert Beckett Lecture theatre, which is the main lecture theatre in Michael Sadler Building. These are two of our most popular and well used venues as part of any conference, so we knew the tried and tested venues would serve us proud.

“Excellent energy and enthusiasm from all staff, loved Alex Mcphail’s motivational speech and a great opportunity to meet colleagues from other departments.”

The day started in the Refectory with bacon sandwiches, pastries, fresh coffee and a good selection of fruit for those who hadn’t given up on their diet 2 days after the Christmas break! We then made our way over to the Rupert Beckett lecture theatre and took our seats for the morning. As we work in the conference sales office it is not usual that we get to spend the day in a lecture theatre and we were surprised at how comfy the seating was – everyone also had a great view of the screen and the presenters due to the tiered seating. Between listening to motivational speaker Alex McPhail (highly recommended), updates from management, awards and hearing about the great work we have done for our staff chosen charities, there was time to stretch our legs, grab a drink in the foyer and network with colleagues from other departments.”

Mike, Sales and Marketing Assistant for our partners Great Food at Leeds, said:

“We were spoilt for choice when it came to the catering for the away day with our team of award winning chefs drawing on their years’ of experience as we enjoyed a fantastic selection of dishes.

Preparing three meal options for over 160 people could seem quite daunting but not for our catering team who do this and much more every day! On the day we were treated to three of the new dishes that are going to be appearing on the Refectory menus this term.

The food was definitely one of the highlights to a fantastic event and plenty of us even helped ourselves to a second helping!

Here is the menu for the day, which you could also experience if you book an event with MEETinLEEDS!”

Main Courses

  • Cajun dusted Salmon, Pan fried with Sour Cream, Tomato Chilli Salsa & Guacamole
  • Chicken wild mushroom & Spinach Stroganoff with Creamy Paprika Sauce
  • Griddled Halloumi, Sweet Potato Bhaji, Coriander Dahl & baby Naan Bread

 

Away-Day-CateringSides & Salads

  • Braised Rice/New Potatoes
  • Selection of Green Vegetables
  • Plum Tomato & Roast Pepper Salad
  • Pesto Pasta Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts
  • Mixed leaves with Lemon Olive Oil dressing

 

Dessert

  • Liquorice Crème Brulee with Sugar Shortbread
  • Warm Plum, Apple & Blackberry Crumble & Custard
  • Fresh Fruit Platter

Find out more about the variety of dishes available on a daily basis in the Refectory on the Great Food at Leeds website.

After lunch the Refectory was transformed into a quiz arena (it is the chameleon of our venue portfolio), where Lisa, also a Conference Sales Executive at MEETinLEEDS, will talk you through her favourite part:

MEETinLEEDS-Team“For the afternoon we were in the hands of the team at Chillisauce, who are also experts at creating fun and engaging team activities, and split us into 20 groups and hosted a version of the Generation Game, which tested our knowledge on just about everything, including how many plums you can fit into a welly!

The afternoon was great fun and it was brilliant to experience an event one of our own venue, as I am normally booking events rather than attending them! It was great to be on the stage that has been graced by some amazing artists over the years. The Who famously recorded “Live at Leeds” here, but to name a few others: Elton John, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, The Jam, U2, Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers, Kasabian and many more.”

The overall consensus from the attendees was that the event was a great success, with comments such as:

“Excellent energy and enthusiasm from all staff, loved Alex Mcphail’s motivational speech and a great opportunity to meet colleagues from other departments.”

“Really nice to see everyone and network. The food throughout the day was awesome!”

“Being a relatively new member of staff was good getting together out of work with others. Lovely food too!”

“I found the day to be a good balance and a great opportunity for staff to feel valued with the Spotlight Awards.”

“The programme was highly motivational and a great avenue for staff interaction. The whole day showed how highly staff are valued.”

“Brilliant for motivation team spirit. A brilliant day at work!”

 

Feedback-Graphs


We can’t wait for next year’s event – roll on 2017!

ARE YOU ORGANISING A TEAM AWAY DAY?

Call us on 0113 343 6100 or send us an email to organise a fun and informative event for you and your colleagues.

Bakers-Judges

MEETinLEEDS are hooked on the Great British Bake Off, so we thought that we would join in the fun and hold our own Showstopper Challenge!

What Is the Showstopper Challenge?

As most of you will know, the Showstopper Bake is the final challenge where you are able to showcase your baking skills. The only rules we applied are that everything had to be home-made (no shop bought pastry!) by the entrants – no professional help allowed!

The bakers were be anonymously judged by our very own experts, Mary Bevvy (Bev Kenny – Head of Conference and Catering) and Simon HollyWood (Simon Wood – Head Chef at the Refectory).

The judges were looking for the most impressive and elaborate creations – flavour, aesthetics, originality and ambition being the 4 categories scored out of 10, with a maximum of 40 points available. The Star Baker winning the highly coveted MEETinLEEDS apron!

However, the taking part is what mattered most, as all of the money raised went to the University of Leeds nominated charities.

The Entries

We had 8 entrants to the bake off, each of which had obviously had a lot of time and effort invested in them. Just take a look for yourself! 

The competition was very tight, with the judges deliberating for half an hour over the merits of the entries, which were as follows:

Parkinson Building Cake – Vibha Firth’s extremely detailed cake was modelled on the iconic Parkinson Building, and was a gluten-free chocolate cake with icing.
Out of the Allotment – Harriet Boatwright’s take on goodies from the potting shed was carrot and cream cheese muffins.
Slime CakeEmma Broadhurst’s disgustingly good entry was a white chocolate cake with white chocolate slime.Piggin’ BrillLisa Wood’s cake was chocolate with a chocolate ganache, with a decoration of pigs that looked very happy.Rubik’s CakeMatt Hamnett’s esoteric entry was a chocolate and butter cream take on the classic puzzle from the 70’s.Scone HengeRyan Johnson’s scone-less bake was flapjack with a mint-chocolate mousse, modelled on Spinal Tap’s famous on-stage set.The Temptation of St Patrick – Mitchell Perry’s cake of the good stuff was a Guinness and chocolate cake, featuring the ubiquitous clover on top.It’s a Peach – Aneta Rus’s light and fluffy entry was a peach and cream cake with a mint leaf topping.

The Winner(s)

Vibha-Harriet-with-CakesThe judges both scored Harriet’s “Out of the Allotment” and Vibah’s “Parkinson Building Cake” exactly the same number of points, with “Mary Bevvy” scoring both 37/40 and “Simon HollyWood” giving both 30/40 (“I am a bit more unforgiving”). Here are their comments on the cakes:

Parkinson Building Cake

Simon – Lovely flavour and icing. The sponge was good, if a little dry. However, the amount of skill, originality and execution of the idea meant it was a deserved joint winner.

Mary – While the sponge was a touch dry, the complexity of the frilly icing, not to mention the representation of the University of Leeds signature building, made this a worthy winner. It should be the new university logo!

Out of the Allotment

Simon – The bake was perfect – lovely and moist muffins with great flavour and very good icing. The use of plant pots for the presentation was very original and appropriate for the carrot theme.

Mary – The best carrot sponge I have ever eaten! The presentation was unusual and the use of the crate, plant pots and sunflowers brought the whole idea together.

 

Congratulations to Vibha and Harriet and thank you to everyone involved in the Great Big MEETinLEEDS Bake Off – see you next year!

Total Warrior Chefs

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If you recall Susan’s blog entry from June, you will remember that members of our MEETinLEEDS catering team were participating in this year’s Leeds Total Warrior obstacle race on June 28th 2015. Our talented team of chefs and catering gurus traded their ‘whites’ for dirty overalls when taking part in this year’s Total Warrior challenge to raise money for charity.

Over 6,000 people took part in what has been described as “the pinnacle of obstacle racing” by ex-military personnel. The 30 obstacles consisting of swimming through 4ft of ice cold water, climbing 15ft walls, crawling under barbed wire through mud and leaping over flaming logs! Take a look at the video, below, to see exactly what happens in one of the toughest challenges in the country.


TOTAL WARRIOR LEEDS 2015 PROMO from Mike Pettyt on Vimeo.

“It means we got to see each other in a different light, outside of the workplace environment and that’s a great way to get to know each other better”

Taking on the challenge were a team of 8 MEETinLEEDS members.  “The exciting thing is the change in team dynamics” says Head Chef Marc Mottershead, “In the kitchen, I’m the boss, but for this course, Phil was in charge of the team.” The team, which they called “Hell’s Kitchen”, trained for three months before the main event by running 5 kilometres, three times every week. “It means we got to see each other in a different light, outside of the workplace environment and that’s a great way to get to know each other better” added Phil.

Hell’s Kitchen completed the gruelling course in 2 hours 53. The team’s initial goal was to raise £500, but amazingly they have more than doubled their target, raising over £1300 for Martin House Children’s Hospice!

Congratulations to our iron chefs and team for proving they are Total Warriors and helping to raise money for a worthy cause at the same time.

Fundraising, healthy team building through friendly competition and some role reversal: all in a day’s work for the team at MEETinLEEDS!

To find out more about the work our department does for charities please visit the Commercial and Campus Support Services website.

Find out more about Total Warrior here.

Susan Broadbent Gravatar

Warriors

Running up muddy slopes, leaping over flaming beams and wading through 10 tonnes of ice and water isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of fine dining chefs.

So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that eight members of our MEETinLEEDS catering team were participating in this year’s Leeds Total Warrior obstacle race on June 28th. I myself have participated in 15k runs and a little cross country before, but 30 obstacles crammed into 12k sounds like a far greater challenge.

Local Charity Events

So too thinks Marc Mottershead, head chef of MEETinLEEDS. The team has taken part in similar obstacle courses before, such as X-runner and Tough Mudder, and they keep their eye out for new courses to run full on for charity.
“We try to keep it local, though, so everyone can have a chance to take part.”

“The exciting thing is the change in team dynamics … In the kitchen, I’m the boss, but for this course, Phil is in charge of the team”

70% of Total Warrior’s entry fees go toward a number of charities, and organisers welcome participants fundraising for a charity of their own choosing. Whilst Phill Tostevin, Second Chef, has run for charities including Cancer Research in the past, this time the team are donating all their proceeds to Martin House Children’s Hospice.

Whilst running for charity is part of the motivation behind the grueling obstacle course, there are other objectives behind catering’s participation. When asked what they were looking forward to both Marc and Phil grinned and the lines “watching people suffer and getting really muddy” might have been said.

“The exciting thing is the change in team dynamics” explains Marc. “In the kitchen, I’m the boss, but for this course, Phil is in charge of the team.”

“It means we get to see each other in a different light, outside of the workplace environment and that’s a great way to get to know each other better.” Phil adds.

Preparation and Diet Changes

With only one more month to go, for now the participants are preparing for Total Warrior by running through Hyde Park on their breaks, changing their diet accordingly and generally keeping fit.

Will the team achieve their fundraising target of £500? Will they live to tell the tale? And will Phill be destined to scrub dishes for the rest of his life after putting the team through its paces? In any case, we’ll be rooting for them and sponsoring them on their arduous trek.

Fundraising, healthy team building through friendly competition and some role reversal, there seems to be so much to gain for your pain. One day maybe I should also trade in my athletics jersey for a ragged T-shirt (or costume!) and give it a shot, too!