Chef Chat

“Gather, Prepare, Cook is brilliant because as fundamental and as basic as you can is how you want to present cooking to [kids]” (Vandenbroucke, 2012).

This weekend, I ran my Meal Cards by a professional chef. Chef Vandenbroucke of the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle graciously spent over an hour with me, discussing my thesis. It was a lot of fun and I learned much from his expertise.

Some outcomes from our conversation included:

  • Confirmation that dividing cooking into Gather, Prepare and Cook is the best way to make cooking successful and accessible.
  • A suggestion to keep meals to 1-2 pots or dishes, make everything as simple as possible
  • The suggestion of possible Meal Frameworks of pasta, fish en papaillote, pizza, fritatta, meatloaf and soup.
  • The idea to engage kids through a mascot and have the design appeal to them first
  • A conversation on how parents drive the activity during cooking and ways to help them delegate tasks.

“[kids] definitely should be involved in doing the mise en place because that makes them more responsible instead of just stirring the pot. You want more out of them than that” (Vandenbroucke, 2012).

We also talked about the differences between professional kitchens and cooking at home and what aspects can translate into the domestic space (as well as what does not). He gave me a tour of his kitchen and even showed me the hanging display of recipes for cooks to learn parts to the meal. It reminded me of the Display component of my project. The difference inn the professional kitchen is that recipes are very loose and assume a high level of competency. Instructions were most often a list of ingredients, followed by an image of the plated dish. Chefs were given one demonstration and a taste test, then expected to recreate the item from this list and memory of how the chef prepared the dish.

Understanding how chefs are trained and how professional kitchens operate is quite beneficial for creating collaborative cooking system for families. The conversation with Chef Vandenbroucke provided affirmation that I am headed in the right direction and some professional insight to consider as I move forward. Thank you Chef!

I would also like to thank Rachel Reynaga for providing the connection to the chefs at Four Seasons.

JournalKaren Whistler