The Chef as Designer: Classifying the Techniques that Chefs use in Creating Innovative Dishes

Barry Kudrowitz, University of Minnesota, USA
Arthur Oxborough, University of Minnesota, USA
Jaz Choi, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Emily Stover, University of Minnesota, USA



This qualitative study explores the methods that chefs use to create innovative marketable product and compares these findings to other design tools.  This study is based on a series of interviews with locally recognized chefs in Minnesota and observations of them in their kitchens in order to understand the details of how they conceive and develop dishes from preliminary concept to final plating and user consumption. This paper focuses on idea generation and discusses two key findings: first, the variety of idea generation techniques presented by the chefs can be classified into the creativity tool SCAMPER (substitute, combine, adapt, modify/magnify, put to other use, eliminate, reverse/rearrange); second, chefs evoke the theory of MAYA or Most Advanced Yet Acceptable when innovating new dishes, which implies making novel changes while remaining relatable to the consumer.  Other reoccurring topics in the interview discussion of food innovation include play, surprise, and humor.  

Download the full paper (PDF)