Talk and Eat

Talk and Eat helps college students connect with other college students from their school to encourage connection and empathy through cooking and eating a home-cooked meal together. From this experience, people will change the way they learn about culture and how they spend quality time.

My Role: UX Designer

Process: understand the brief, choose problem space, design research, concept generation, storyboards, system design, branding, screen flow, prototypes, video production and editing

Time Taken: 2 weeks

when you are in a new place, the thought of meeting new people is intimidating to some. 

For new or shy students, it can be hard to make friends and for culture learning fanatics, learning a language to understand culture is time consuming. There is also an ignorance among different cultures which leads to a lack of empathy or understanding.

there is a need for a more mutual way of connecting. 

I conducted qualitative interviews with college students who enjoy spending time eating and learning different cultures to understand their relationship with food and how they relate it to their personal relationships and own culture.

Key Insights and Opportunities:

1. Because of time, most people eat food for convenience and don’t usually cook regularly

How might we...create/facilitate quality time for college students who have no time?

How might we...make eating worth the time and effort to help create meaningful experiences?

2. When people are able to make the connection between food and its culture, it enhances the overall food experience

How might we...amplify culture learning through food?

I was inspired by the metaphor of "breaking bread", the concept of people coming together for food.

Everyone likes food and food is usually the first point into a new culture. What if food could be used as a way to connect people of different backgrounds? What if food could be a facilitator for new interactions which led to culture learning and ultimately an awareness of empathy for others that increases overtime?

I started to redefine quality time by leveraging existing experiences to create new ones.

Concept Sheets and Sketches:

Based on insights from my interviews, I generated ideas on potential product solutions to help facilitate the connection between food and people. I thought about similar yet different value propositions that would ultimately change the way people approach learning a new culture.

I integrated the existing experience of a food-related technology ecosystem (i.e. food delivery service) with current ways people learn a new language/culture to help people learn to incorporate quality time into their busy schedules. 

this led to creating a platform that builds empathy and allows for deeper conversation through food.

To have a better idea of how people would go through the experience, I mapped out a system of actions that encompass the whole experience in a task flow. I used different colors to signify the different actions.

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storytelling is a powerful tool to understand analog user intent and behaviors. 

Since I had a better understanding of the experience I wanted to create, I created storyboards to help frame the context of how one would interact with the product throughout one cohesive journey. 

understanding how the digital experience co-exists with the analog one. 

I created a screen flow that would be apart of the user's experience before, during and after the interaction with the contents of the product and 'food buddy'.

I kept the design of the screens minimal to emphasize the experience that takes place beyond a screen. 

The experience is linear to provide less effort for the user when they choose a culture they want to learn about and record the quality time they spend with the other person. It allows them to complete one action during each step to reduce the cognitive load of different actions.

Key Screens


Onboarding is the beginning of a user's first interaction with your product and brand. I wanted to make sure users understand the value and benefit of my product as well be able to intuitively use the app without much hassle before downloading and using the app.

The onboarding process begins when the user chooses which school they are from and which culture they associate themselves with to begin their culture exchange experience.

Choose Cuisine

Let's say you want to learn how to cook a Chinese dish. Simply scroll through the wide range of cuisines from different cultures as well as use the search bar to search for specific cuisine or dishes.

I made sure to focus on the image of the categories in order to make it easier for users to decide on what kind of cuisine they want to try as well as create an inviting atmosphere for each category utilizing icon and color

Choose your food partner

Once you decide on a dish, you get to choose someone from that culture to cook/eat food with. This person will be of walking distance so it will be convenient to meet up.

By eating with someone from a different culture, both parties can have an immersive experience of learning a new culture in the comfort of one's home.


Record cooking Experience

I wanted to be able to have the app keep track of the experience by recording the time and/or mood one might have when cooking.

The experience is focused on the connection between cooking and eating so it shouldn't be hindered by technology but instead using the technology to track behaviors of cooking in the background.

Take a picture

After the cooking experience is over, I wanted to be able to provide a space for users to track their culture learning progress as well as reflect what they learned through taking pictures and keeping a picture diary.

It would be helpful for users to look back and remember each experience they had learning about a new culture as well as the bonding time they may have had with someone. 


Picture journal/diary

Cooking is a way to bond and learn a culture so why not try to turn it into an artifact that people can reminisce and look back to?

The diary functions as more than just a diary but an area of organizing thought and self expression. Users can tag pictures, organize moments and instead of only being able to write, they can draw how they feel, add stickers and attach that to the pictures they take to emulate the way one collects polarloids as objects that present value and small moments we share.

delivering value to compliment the food.  

A basic prototype of the box and the contents which come with it. The food is not included as it varies. I chose the box to be white in order to not give too much information of the service as I want all the value to be directed to the interaction with the person and the cooking + eating experience.

Next Steps

Exploring physical aspects of the experience

For the service, I would want to create a higher fidelity of the box and contents that go inside of it (ex: conversation starter cards that are attached to the food items) for users to start interacting with one another before cooking and eating together. I would also want to show more of the un-boxing experience between the people as that is an important part of a first time user's experience of interacting with a product. In regards to creating an experience, it would be interesting to think about where does the journey for the two users begin? Does it start when they navigate through the app interface to order ingredients or does it actually begin when they start cooking together? I would want to think about the significance of each part of the experience and how my users would interact during every step and what are their thoughts on the overall experience.


For the project, I would want to look at examples of content in different food box services and see what are they are doing well, so I could implement those things to improve my service and convey the overall value for my users. For the video itself, I want to show more of what the service is about rather than describing it. I would want to also think about establishing shots and wide shots to show the space in which the people in as well as to have more breathing room (some of the shots look claustrophobic and are too tight). There is a good opportunity to utilize film to convey the feeling of the service whether it is giving perspective or changing it so it looks like the camera represents us experiencing the world in the video.

taking note of different users

Going back to the design process, I would want to set up different scenarios or use cases of how different people might use the service and the goal they are trying to achieve my using it. I would also want to think about the question “How to make something happen?" moving forward to understand how and why people would discover and want to use my service or any product in general. In regards to my idea and that it allows users to learn from different cultures through food, it would be interesting to narrow it down and hone in on just one culture (talk about differences of regions).


designing deep experiences enabled by technology

After this project, I learned how to be able to better understand users through empathy and creating a product that facilitates behavior change and presents value to the user (Motivation + Ability + Trigger= Behavior).  I also learned to how evoke new thoughts (eye openers) to introduce new value behind existing concepts and technology and bridging the two together. I was able to connect physical and digital experiences to emphasize interpersonal connections in a real life setting which encourages culture learning in the comfort of one's home as well as interactions with someone of a different culture to generate awareness of diversity and connection with people of different backgrounds.

becoming a well-rounded designer

As a designer it is important to be aware of your strengths and weakenesses so you can expand your skill-set so by working in various mediums utilizing the design process and video, I have gained better understanding where my strengths and weaknesses lie.