Eat Your [Well-Designed] Veggies

20140924_Kudrowitz_ Carrots_0107.jpgThis fall, Food and Design students are turning carrots into jerky, pixie stix, and madeleines to learn design principles through the medium of food.

Barry Kudrowitz co-teaches the course with Zata Vickers (Food Science and Nutrition) and a number of local chefs including Steven Brown of Tilia, Ken Goff of Bryant Lake Bowl, Mike DeCamp of La Belle Vie, John Ng of Zen Box Izakaya, Marshall O’Brien, and Karl Benson of Cooks of Crocus Hill.

But what do knife skills and flavor pairings have to do with design?

Kudrowitz recently published a study exploring how the methods that chefs use to create new recipes compare to other design tools. “The Chef as a Designer” interviewed locally recognized chefs and visited them in the kitchen to understand their creative processes. The study found that chefs and designers use a number of the same techniques – including ideation, sketching, and testing – to develop and deliver innovative products.

The Food and Design students’ first assignment was to create a dish that was 95 to 100 percent carrot and appealing to kids. Each dish was taste-tested by a food scientist, a chef, a child, and two parents. Their favorites included carrots sliced and boxed like french fries, frozen into ice pops, chilled as Jello inside orange peels, and cut into worms.

20140924_Kudrowitz_ Carrots_0114.jpgWhen advertising to children, the market portrays every nearly every product – from clothing to televisions shows to furniture – as playful. But vegetables tend to be branded as healthy, not fun. Perhaps their “nutritious but bland” image is related to the fact that only 22 percent of children ages 2 to 5 and 16 percent of 6-to-11-year-olds eat the amount of veggies recommended by U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

Kudrowitz and Vickers may incorporate some of these designs in a study to test whether playful design can encourage children to eat more vegetables. After all, steamed carrots are a harder sell than carrot cake pops.