No more meetings! Unless they’re lunch meetings, of course. First Seating knows the power of a great breakfast or lunch to sweeten up team gatherings, especially if the group makes the meal together. We love this idea.

In-office cooking is easier said than done, but Carolyn Sams and Isis Krause of First Seating have kept that in mind. All summer long, we’re bringing you a series of team lunch concepts from this creative strategy duo that will have your team connecting and creating business solutions in a way that’s fun and practical.

First Seating helps teams of all shapes and sizes – non-profits and mission-driven businesses especially – to tackle important issues and initiatives through family-style roundtables helping to drive rich conversations, collaborative decisions, and stronger connections among people.

Each meeting idea in our Team Lunch Series will include a meeting agenda with conversation starters and simple recipes that can be made together and shared together – even in your typical office kitchen! First up in our series: a mid-year reflection over a potluck-style fresh summer salad. Here are the ladies with more…

It might be hard to believe, but we’re halfway through 2015. And when it comes to your day job, by this time of year you’re likely feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from the big vision of your work, especially the goals you might have set at the start of the year.

We started First Seating to help people separate themselves from the daily chaos and step back with their colleagues to look at the big picture. During our collaborative workshops, we talk through big ideas and strategy in a setting that’s approachable, honest and effective. One of the most distinct parts about our work is that we emphasize the importance of breaking bread together. We’ve seen firsthand that a family-style lunch with your colleagues can unlock a new type of conversation that people rarely experience.

The Team Conversation: Mid-Year Reflection
Download worksheet here


What’s one thing you want to begin? A new daily/weekly/monthly habit? A big goal? Something you’ve been meaning to do, but never got around to?


What should you stop doing to better focus on the good, hard work in front of you? Who will help remind you to not take it on? What can happen now that you’ve stopped?


What did you learn over the last 6 months that you don’t want to forget? A piece of advice? A new skill? A particular experience or lesson learned? Write it down and post it somewhere so you don’t forget.


What happened in the last 6 months that would be helpful to move on from? The impact of an uncontrollable event? An interaction with someone? Something you did or didn’t do? Forgive it or yourself — you’ve got so many other good things to think about!
After everyone has shared, end with a discussion about the common themes, and come up with a few big goals for the next six months.

After the conversation:

What was shared that was really similar? Extremely different? What are the most important 1-3 themes common among your team? Do any of these represent a goal that your team can work on?

This salad can be adjusted for different flavor profiles with the basic formula of fruit, crunchy vegetables, soft cheese, fresh herbs and greens, all topped with a lime and serrano pepper salad dressing.

Ask your colleagues to bring in the different ingredients below (and cooking supplies if needed). For a larger group, have people bring a grilled protein (meat or tofu), fresh bread (tortillas or pita), and some extra fixings (hummus, guacamole or fattoush). Chop, mix and assemble the salad with your team – cooking together will set the tone for your conversation.

The Team Lunch: Fruit & Herb Summer Salad
Serves 6 – but scale accordingly to meet the size of your team


For the salad:
4 lbs fruit (1/2 large watermelon / 6 oranges / 4 mangoes), sliced ¼” thick
2 lbs fresh + crunchy vegetable (6 persian cucumbers / 2 medium jicama), sliced ¼” thick
1 cup soft cheese (feta / cotija cheese)
½ cup washed and sliced herbs (any combination of mint, basil, cilantro)
2 ripe avocado, sliced
3 cups arugula
½ cup thinly sliced pickled red onion

For the salad dressing:
4 limes, juiced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 tsp agave (to taste)
½-2 thinly sliced serrano chilis, sliced very thin (to taste, with extra for the side)


On a large platter, scatter several generous handfuls of arugula, then layer up the fruit and vegetables in a pretty pattern. Garnish with lots of herbs, avocado, crumbled cheese and pickled red onions.

Mix together the salad dressing and lightly pour over the salad. Finish with a few avocado slices and a final scatter of herbs, cheese, or extra serrano chilies for heat. Enjoy the salad with additional parts of the meal (like grilled chicken, bread, guacamole).

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