January 21, 2013

Chopped vs. Charette: Culinary Arts and Architecture

There was an awesome restaurant I went to in NYC, called Fat Buddha,
and they had Chicken and (Red Velvet) Waffles
(Being the foodie that I am, I wish I can learn this...seriously)
Both Architecture and the Culinary Arts require a cohesion of technique and creativity, an understanding of theory and practicality, along with a passion and dedication to your discipline.

A lot of people with architecture backgrounds have made the jump to the cooking field as a hobby or a full-fledged career. Me and my architecture classmates cannot stop clicking 'like' on Facebook with one of our colleagues talent in her awesome baking talents of cupcakes, cakes, and more! I have a few friends who have studied architecture and have found ways to relate food to their thesis projects. One of my friends, Kayeon, did her architecture thesis around a culinary school incorporating urban agriculture. Another friend, Becky, is doing her thesis on creating a girl scout facility and uses her website to link it to her passion of food. Both of them have blogs which have good recipes. If you're a foodie like myself, I recommend checking out their respective blogs, Kayeon Eats and Scouting for Architecture if you need to figure out what to cook.

Anyways, I`m going to get into the topic of today`s post now. Recently, I have been watching the Television Show Chopped, among other shows like Top Chef, on the Food Network. I found the show quite interesting as it is similar and parallel to what we have in architecture school known as the Design Charette. Alternatively,if you were to stretch out the cooking battles over a few weeks you have a studio project. You have all these elements that are similar – which is no surprise since Culinary Arts and Architecture are quite parallel as both creative fields have to work under pressure.
© Orangeline | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos
It is a stressful experience, you have all these parameters and must deliver within a short amount of time (sound familiar, architecture students?).  You cannot choose to ignore one parameter that is difficult to work with or work around (in the show, the mystery ingredients) or you will face greater scrutiny or dire consequences of getting eliminated. At the end of the round or time allotment, something has to be given, why you see judges or chefs like Alex Guarnaschelli telling the contestants to just "PLATE NOW! GET IT DONE!" at final minutes to deadline - very similar to your studio professor coming in before your deadline telling you to get it done, at least hand in something than nothing.

At the end of the cooking battle, You are openly critiqued and questioned by a panel of judges as they taste your food. Have you finely balanced technique and creativity? taste? Do all the basket ingredients work well together. Too many ingredients mean a convoluted taste. How was your progress throughout the competition? Did you display a consistent performance? Architecture school is similar in that you are critiqued by balancing technique and concept. Is the big idea being conveyed with what you said and presented? Or is it unclear with the wrong moves you made or what you said.

Deadlines. Parameters. Deliverables. Critique. Consistency. Progress - they are quite similar to the elements that we deal with architecture school and working under pressure. It’s interesting to see how the people behave under pressure. I find this similar to what I have noticed and seen in architecture school - you'll have those people that remain calm, those anxious, and those frustrated at different points throughout the time duration of a project.
© Sax | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
Now if you noticed the people that have won  gone close to the finish line or ultimately won:
- They’re positive even to their competitors around them.
- They’re persistent – they are giving what they take and making their best shot
- They’re confident in their craft and they don’t take rejection or negative feedback too personally
- They’re on their feet and strategic – quick to move, and ready to re-calibrate during any error
- They're hardworking.

For those that lose:
- lack positivity or self-confidence
- defensive when being attacked for their cooking decisions.
- Let the negative feedback hold them back in progressing by taking it personally
- slow and unable to rise to the occasion and work on their feet quickly.

This might be a deeper read of the show, but there are some things that architecture students can learn from  in how these chefs behave in working under pressure on a show like Chopped. Both Culinary Arts and Architecture are stressful fields as you have to work under deadlines and pressure - you need to find ways to be comfortable during the stressful situations.

If at first you don't Charrette...
The art of the design review
Traits architecture students must have
Lunch Inside the Crystal


  1. I started watching Project Runway after coming to architecture school because our studio could relate to the competition on the show. Designers have great skill sets to come up with ideas quickly and act on them just as fast. Thanks for pointing out this comparison too -- interesting!

  2. Thanks Becky, I should perhaps cover fashion design in the future. Thanks for the lead!