How do you emphasise with the people that you want to design for? How do you share portions of their struggle, joy, confusion and energy? One of the methods to do so is to observe them.

I set myself to observe 5 people, when they cook a meal they never cooked before. I let them choose a recipe or have chosen one myself, asking them what do they feel like cooking. Because people should cook and eat what they want to cook and eat, as Nick Nairn said.

I was looking to find insights in where do these people struggle when cooking a meal from a recipe. What makes them stop and direct their attention to the recipe. When do they get frustrated about something in the cooking process. In other words, what breaks and impacts their flow.

Jana Šmuhařová

Jana doesn’t normally cook. She enjoys cooking for others, that gives her a proper motivation. The same kind of motivation she had when she was cooking for my research. Jana proposed to make a sushi, since she never did it before. Being dislexic, she has struggled a bit with the recipe reading – making a small mistake when preparing the rice. She asked few questions, like “how do I peel an avocado?”. She would appreciate a different breakdown of the recipe – something easier to grasp.

Jana and her first sushi experience

Jana and her first sushi experience

Amanda Bataller

Amanda is an experienced cook, working in Roseangle Café. She decided to make a meal that captured her interest on Pinterest – asian RAW rolls with vegetables, wrapped in rice wrap, served with peanut butter chilli sauce. She had to search for the sauce recipe somewhere else since it wasn’t included. At some point Amanda wasn’t sure how to cut the cabbage, since it wasn’t specified in too much depth.

Amanda and her raw vegan spring rolls - that chili kick!

Amanda and her raw vegan spring rolls – that chili kick!

Leanne Fischler

Leanne decided to do an Austrian scrambled pancake dish – Kaiserschmarrn. She likes it because of the memories and story it is associated with (her mum used to make it). She found few recipes and was drawing information from all of them, also deciding to call her mum because she wasn’t sure about some specific part. Leanne was checking previous steps in the recipe quite often (relative to where she was). She wasn’t sure about the dough consistency at some point – it’s quite hard to explain in a recipe.

Leanne cooking her way back to her Austrian roots

Leanne cooking her way back to her Austrian roots

Solange Brugnatelli

Solange cooks very often. She decided to make vegan pasta dish. Changing lot of steps in the recipe to her likings and beliefs, she replaces the original ingredients with healthier alternatives or for what she has home right now. She also changes some cooking methods for better, more nutrient-preserving ones. She changes her phone’s auto-lock to 10 minutes, so the display doesn’t go dim and lock. Sometimes she checks the previous/next steps in advance. She’s taking idea of how the dish should look from the photo. There was a mistake with too much salt in the dish – she replaced original ingredient with more salty one. She’d appreciate if the solution would ask the user to taste the dish often.

Patrick Drabble

Patrick loves curries, but since this shouldn’t be a recipe that he already knows,  I chose a sweet potato curry with mushrooms for him. There was a garlic powder as an ingredient, which seemed inferior to raw garlic to Patrick so he replaced it with the real one. Patrick prefers to follow the recipe quite directly, instead of changing it a lot.

Patrick, the man who knows his curry.

Patrick, the man who knows his curry.