Personal Cooking Frontier


Before good at cooking, everyone has ever experienced a learning process, especially when they expand their cooking frontier to a new recipe. It is easy for us to assume that this learning experience should be full some signs of outwards insecurity. Their dinner is possibly on the line. The family would influence their cooking habits. Most people were supposed to be relying on instructions a lot when in unfamiliar territory. But most of them are not true, some of them are one-sided.


Project objectives

1. Understand user's experience and expectation in conducting new cooking skill and a recipe.

2. Seeking opportunity for cooking education industry.


Eight participants were observed in their homes as they cooked a meal. The criteria was that it must be a dish they had never made before. They are supposed to have some commitment to cooking recently. What they decided to do was up to them since it was important to probe into that decision-making process.



Cooking something new is experimental.

It turned out to be a lot less intimidating than it sounds—It’s not stressful, it’s experimental.

Cooking an unfamiliar dish is a source of relaxation for some, pride of others, and satisfaction for most. Those enjoyments encourage they keep exploring. Family plays a role of motivation, but there is a divergence. Some would be inspired by family cooking and recipe; the others are seeking to deviate from it. When encountering an uncertain step, the majority of participants were unafraid to make guesswork when necessary.



1. The whole cooking journey

It is divided into 5 phases: setting criteria(what to cook), seeking knowledge, making plan (how to cook),

methods(cooking food), wrap-up(someone may share food). In each phase, we identified different types of mode.

2. Rewarding experience enhance users commitment to keep exploring.

Along with cooking, there is a rewarding experience model. Some enjoy cooking, some enjoy eating, while others enjoy sharing. Users experience rewards during and after their cooking journey. These rewards influence every decision users make during the cooking process, and fall into three categories: Cooking, Eating and Sharing.

3. Opportunity space

As a preliminary study, several directions for future study were identified.

1. Family relationships impact path

2. External information usage model

3. Tool purchase channel


Recipe channels that support a modular approach

Modular products to satisfy new chef’s various enjoyment during the cooking process.

Capitalize on the family connection by building services around this intimate network

Communication Poster


Observing Objective

The frontier is always changing. The context of cooking—how people started their journey and where they are going—is as important as the activities of today.


Takeaways from observation

Difficult decision making: She finally chose a recipe from Pinterest.

Family influence in cooking: Decided to cook fish head at her father’s suggestion

Applying personal knowledge from career, the architect spends over 8 minutes carefully dicing an onion.

Experiment is always needed: The recipe’s vague instruction make the “creative director" experiment with parchment.

Assistant tool during cooking, Cell phone was used throughout. And she was multitasking while checking the recipe.


Analysis and synthesis