ratio approach

i haven’t written in a few weeks, but let me assure you, i have good reason. i had a bit of a meltdown the day after my last post. i met with Jenny and just felt like i was going in circles, always ending up at the same point with nothing new to show for it or to present. it has been one of the most trying weeks in my masters career, as i seriously contemplated stopping all of the madness and dropping out of school.

needless to say, i didn’t do that. i’m still writing here, so something must have changed, right? well, luckily yes, things have changed, and once again and i feel excited about what i’m setting out to do. i’ve been doing so much research these past few months, and my previous goal (to get non-cooks into the kitchen) felt like the more research i did, the broader my topic was getting and the fuzzier my audience was getting. it has been extremely frustrating.

so my thesis took a bit of a turn about a week and a half ago. i was inspired by michael ruhlman’s book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. the idea that cooking could be broken down into 26 different ratios was groundbreaking for me! he admits that he didn’t necessarily come up with the ratios, in fact, chef Uwe Hestnar of CIA handed it down to him, saying that he had compiled it over the years of studying the patterns of the master chefs. Hestnar said this list was all one truly needed. The ratios are the “fundamentals of the culnary arts—all of Escoffier, Larousse, Careme, as well as Julia Child, James Beard, The Joy of Cooking, and the Food Network—in their entirety” in a page and a half (Ratio, xxii).

then it hit me, what if i approached this as a design solution for the problem of people not knowing how to cook? i could make cooking without a recipe accessible, freeing people from the tyranny of the recipe by simplifying it down the bare essentials. true, the ratios will produce a “good, not great” product, but that’s where the creativity and freedom comes in. once you know a single ratio (barebones recipe for success), you know a thousand recipes! the book doesn’t touch upon seasoning or flavor profiling, so i want to build on it there as well, but for the first time since i gave my Midpoint presentation, i feel like i have a real direction! a direction that has potential for infographics, for visual aids, for branding, for partnerships, etc. etc. i’m finally excited about this!

so that’s what i’ve been up to for the last two-ish weeks…getting completely derailed, and then slowly picking myself back up and wiping off the dust and scrapes. and now i’m catching my breath, getting ready to take this on.

my one concern at this point, and this is something that i’m looking into this week, is if working on the idea of cooking by ratios would be intellectual property infringement. i personally don’t think so because the idea isn’t necessarily new (ruhlman says so himself), but it’s a different, unexplored way to approach a saturated design environment with something new and visually exciting.

here is a quick stab at my first round of a “prototype”. it’s nothing special, but it’s trying out an aesthetic that is friendly, approachable, fresh and modern. i realize this also means that i will likely need to change the name of my thesis (no longer, “don’t fear the kitchen”) because, as much as it’s still about not fearing the kitchen and cooking, it’s more about ratios and basic building blocks of cooking. i want to prepare people with a different approach to cooking that hopefully will excite and inspire people to cook!




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