International Cooking Extravaganza

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Written by Sholpan Zhaksybaeva and Elizabeth Blackburn

Cooking by Sholpan Zhaksybaeva, Elizabeth Blackburn, and Vlad Odobescu


We thought that the best way to show teamwork would be to put it into action. We can talk about teamwork, but it is not the same as showing how a team interacts.

Teamwork takes the actions of people and combines it together, so to demonstrate this we combined the tastes of Kazakhstan and the United States into a meal for our friends and classmates.

The act of cooking teaches many lessons. In the past, people spent a significant amount of time preparing and eating food together. This was important because it taught communication and was an outlet for people to discuss and share ideas, thoughts, and values. It was not only the act of simply preparing food, but also it was an act of love and taking care of one another in a positive way. These traits learned from cooking are vital to any team situation because everyone needs an opportunity to learn and express himself or herself.

Food is a part of every culture and reflects the people of a nation, so we wanted to share our unique dishes to better understand one another and help others understand us as a team.

Let’s start with the Kazakh dish!

This dish is Kazakhstan is called Palau. It is made in one pot mainly with meat, rice and vegetables. The interesting part about this dish is that it is similar all around the world not only in what the dish is made out of, but also in how it is called in various languages. That is why when we prepared this dish we invited our friends from different countries because it is an international food.

For example:

Kazak – Palau

Azerbaijan – Plov

Bulgarian – Pilaf

Kyrgyz – Paloo

Tadjik– Palov

Tatar– Pylau

Turkmenian- Palow

Tanzanian –Pilau

Spanish – Paella


Now for how we worked as a team. First, we discussed what is needed to accomplish our goal of making the dish and then we divided the list of ingredients. It is important as a team to delegate all of the tasks, and not try to do everything individually. Cooking palau requires a multi-step process so we needed to work amongst ourselves so we could work faster and more effectively. Palau takes about one and half hours to prepare.IMG_7557

One of us cut the vegetables and the other one cubed the meat. Once everything was chopped, cut and cubed we started to cook in a large pot.


Since it takes a while to prepare, we were able to make other dishes during that time. We prepared Kazakh fried eggplant, salad and a pumpkin dessert.



The pumpkin dessert was the American aspect of the meal. Since it is fall and many Americans incorporate pumpkin into their meals during this season, we thought it would be appropriate to add this to our meal.   Also, we had a special guest appearance from Vlad who contributed to the cooking and cleaning for the evening. He added a little Romanian flavor to our Kazakh/American team with his delicious called moussaka.


Once we finished cooking, we shared our teamwork with our friends from Estonia, Uganda, Armenia, and the United States.

During the process, we grew as a team because we shared about our individual cultures, used our unique talents, and worked together to complete a common goal. We discovered that doing things together as a team is not only educational, but also fun. It was an evening filled with joy and laughter and of course Kazakh tea with milk!


Some recipe links! The dessert link is the recipe that was followed and the other links are examples of recipes that could be used to prepare these dishes.

Pumpkin Blondies




6 Comments on “International Cooking Extravaganza”

  1. Sholpan and Elizabeth,

    I love what you two did for your blog post this week! Cooking food is always more fun when you do it with friends and family. Cooking isn’t only a collaborative effort but it’s also a gesture of care and love.The best part of cooking with friends of different backgrounds, is learning a few new tricks in the kitchen.

    Great post!

  2. Sholpan and Elizabeth,

    This is fantastic. Beyond fantastic. This is extravagantly fantastic. I believe there are few tasks more exemplary of true teamwork than cooking. I know it has been my experience that too many cooks in the kitchen is a tough challenge, and good teamwork beats this difficulty. Great work with learning to understand one another and your ways in the kitchen.

    Honestly, I’m sad I wasn’t invited. The food looked supreme, and I love that you chose a pumpkin dish. Tis the season for all things pumpkin. Mmmm I’m getting hungry writing this. But that’s kind of the story of my life.

    Thanks for this, girls 🙂

  3. Ladies,

    I loved that you two took to the kitchen to demonstrate teamwork! Action surely is the name of the game. Anyone can spit out ideas, but it takes action to truly demonstrate what we are really capable of.

    The journey you both took while adapting to one another’s cooking styles was beautiful to read. I loved knowing that along the way you both shared cultural values and stories. Furthermore, working together to achieve a common goal is such a lovely thing to witness. Thank you both for sharing this with us.

  4. Sholpan and Elizabeth,

    I’m joining the choir here. I loved reading your post. Cooking is such an intimate activity to share with someone else, especially when you’re introducing another person to your favorite and traditional foods. It also demands a lot of attention and collaboration. You guys are a wonderful team, in and out of the kitchen!

    My only suggestion: invite me next time?


  5. Shola and Elizabeth,

    What a cool and tasty idea to explore the concept of teamwork. My only critique is that you have made me hungry for the meal you made and I will now have to settle for something much less delicious out of my empty fridge. I must also compliment you on your leadership savvy by getting Vlad to pitch in with the efforts, a good team needs to be flexible, be open to unexpected opportunities and able to capitalize on them effectively.


  6. Hey guys!
    I will add to the praising comments as this was a beautifully creative way to showcase not only what goes into teamwork and how people interact but also some delicious recipes! Yum! You not only accomplished your goal but showed that you could do so in a fun and cultivating way for everyone involved. It was also great to see that you shared the spoils of your labor with so many others to make it even better. Good job working together and preparing such a delicious looking meal!

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