Life At Work: A chocolate and port tasting at the office

Company: NewBrand
Analytics.

Location: Washington.

Employees: 50.

Albert Law is a foodie, and he likes to share his passion by hosting wine and food tastings for his friends. So when he started a new job at District-based NewBrandAnalytics, he decided that bringing this concept to his workplace might be a great way to get to know his co-workers.

Law, a senior software developer at the technology service company, got a budget to host an in-office chocolate and port tasting event. He spent two hours at a local chocolate shop trying to find just the right mix of flavors — artisanal chocolates from Tuscany; organic small-batch sweets from Ecuador. He gave his co-workers a brief introduction to each of the treats, and also to the ports, some of which came from the Douro Valley in Portugal.

Law would ask attendees to weigh in with their opinions on the tastes.

“I tried to highlight some of the people who are usually more quiet in the office, to get them out of their shell,” Law said.

Whitney Kasle, a marketing associate, said the event drew a strong turnout, which is common for events that employees design for each other.

“Typically, whenever somebody hosts something in the office, people jump on board,” Kasle said. “People are very willing to try new things.”

Kasle said she especially enjoyed learning about port, since she hadn’t had it much before.

“I not only learned what it tasted like, I learned what it was,” she said with a laugh.

And she said getting together for an unconventional event was an effective way to build camaraderie among the team.

“When you get all of us, in a group together, it’s very hard to get us to shut up,” Kasle said.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economics news.
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