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What are Kitchen Sprints?

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Kitchen Sprints are my family’s way to share our cooking adventures with our friends to stay connected during Covid-19. Kitchen Sprints are inspired by the cooking show “Chopped” and executed in "Design Sprint" style.

One of the things that brings me joy is cooking for my family and friends. My approach to cooking is understanding my audiences’ preferences, being resourceful with what I have on hand, and drawing a recipe from my inspiration (which means there’s no following of a strict recipe). I’ve learned from over 20+ years of preparing food that you can create some of the best tasting food with the simplest of ingredients (as Samin Nosrat elegantly puts it in her book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat).

I learned a lot by watching Food Network, especially food challenge shows. I’m always fascinated by how each of the contestants has to think on their feet, overcome constraints, and produce something that’s appealing to look at and delicious to eat. And unlike other cooking shows, there’s a feedback loop that the chef can learn from!

2020 was a crazy year.

It took away my comfort of connecting with my friends over home cooked meals. I struggled throughout the year adjusting to the new constrained life of living in isolation (following CDC guidelines). There’s a possibility that 2021 might not be that different from 2020, so what could I do differently to get my dose of creativity through cooking and sharing?

My husband, Nathan, had a brilliant suggestion for me — a weekly event based off of the cooking show “Chopped!” Every Sunday, Nathan (my husband) and Yashas (my teenage son) would put together a basket of secret ingredients and I would have an hour to prepare a meal. They would then assess my food based on creativity, presentation, and taste, and we would document the experience over the period of a year to share with our friends. The added challenge would be that one of the judges who is my son is a notoriously picky eater. We would call these cooking challenges “Kitchen sprints” (inspired by Design sprints as I’m a UX Designer.)

The challenge:

  1. Prepare a meal highlighting the basket ingredients

  2. Use any pantry ingredients as needed

  3. Cook within the time constraint of one hour

Judging criteria:

  1. Creativity

  2. Presentation

  3. Taste

A little bit about me:

Before I share my first Kitchen Sprints, I want to share a few things about me:

  1. I’ve been a lifelong vegetarian and have never tasted any type of meat.

  2. An exception to my vegetarian diet however is eggs, which I love eating (Wikipedia describes me as a lacto-ovo vegetarian).

  3. Even though I have never tasted meat, I can cook meat dishes applying the general principles of a balanced taste structure (and I often hear good feedback from my audience).

  4. I’ve learned a lot (theoretical, not applied) watching Food Network shows over the past 18+ years.

  5. I can cook food from different cuisines: Indian (which comes naturally to me), Thai, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Greek, and so on…

I documented a few of the Kitchen Sprints in the next few posts and I'm looking forward to hearing your feedback.

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