A Design Twist on the Local Foodie Movement

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In a classroom on the first floor of McNeal Hall, students wait patiently with plastic spoons.

They are inaugural participants in the first Food and Design class, a hands-on, edible experimentation course that teaches basic design principles through food.

Food and Design UMN 4.jpgToday their assignment was to develop an innovative flavor and texture pairing in one spoon-sized bite. The bite-sized hors d’oeuvres on display, which needed to highlight a seasonal fruit or vegetable, range from caramelized sweet potatoes with crispy bacon to green tea Jell-O with maple cranberry apple sauce.

“I have always been interested in looking at food as a designed project,” says instructor Barry Kudrowitz, assistant professor and the director of the product design program. “If you view food as something that you can design with, anyone with a kitchen has a prototyping shop in their home.”

KSTP-TV reporter Tom Duran caught up with design students
 to try their edible experiments for himself.

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With help from local chefs Diane Yang, Steven Brown (above), and Doug Flicker, Kudrowitz spent the semester introducing students to everything from knife skills to plating design to flavor experimentation. Optional fieldtrips to Tilla, La Belle Vie, and Piccolo allowed students to experience table service with a fixed menu and rare behind-the-scenes look into how the different kitchens operate.

“It’s a lot of hands on, a lot of experimentation in the kitchen,” explains junior Alex Eninsche, an architecture student minoring in product design. “You’re treating what you’re cooking like your architectural model. It’s a lot of the same design process.”

IMG_20131016_104440.jpgOriginally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Eninsche says she grew up in a food centric town. “I’ve seen food as a unifier for community. It’s a way to be on the pulse about what’s happening around you,” she explains. 

After graduation she’s considering working part time for a design office and part time with food, “and using that experience in the long term as another skill in my repertoire.”

Kudrowitz is excited about the outcome of the class.”At the class 

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reviews, some of these students are creating dishes that the chefs are impressed with.”

With all of the sampling going on, is there any food that he doesn’t like? “Things with banana in them, but not bananas on their own … kinda weird.”

>>  MORE PHOTOS: See what students came up with for their final assignment at Eat Design and follow their semester of experiments on Instagram at #UMNfooddesign.

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Thumbnail image for EMERGINGspringcover.jpgThis story was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of our magazine, Emerging, which is available online and mailed to College of Design alumni, design firms, and University of Minnesota community members. If you want to receive a print copy, send an email to design@umn.edu with Emerging in the subject line. You can also subscribe to our weekly email updates, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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