Form, Function, and… Flavor?: Four Designers Who Took Their Architecture Skills to the Kitchen

When we think of architecture, we think of buildings. And while that isn’t wrong (most architects design buildings and spaces, of course), any created object can be architectural. As we exemplified in our “Four Fashion Designers Who Combine Fashion & Architecture” post, applying principles and processes from architecture to other art forms can result in incredible inter-disciplinary creations. For four internationally-acclaimed architect-turned-chefs, building intricate, structural dishes has allowed them to explore their architectural prowess with their love of cooking. Thanks to these chefs, people can now experience architecture in a different way; rather than admiring a built structure, they have the chance to use different senses, including taste and smell, to appreciate the precision and detail that architects employ in their work, whether on a plate or a plot of land.

(photos from Dezeen, Dinara Kasko, Eater, Architectural Digest, Canlis, The Art of Plating, The JC, New York Times, Youtube)

Dinara Kasko

Ukranian architect Dinara Kasko began baking for fun while working as a 3D visualizer, but quickly realized that creating well-structured pastries was more exciting to her. Using technology she was already familiar with, Kasko began printing 3D moulds for extremely unique and artistic cake decorations. Using architecture as her inspiration, her geometric designs and affordable silicone moulds are a breath of fresh air in the pastry industry, and have helped mould users express their own creativity through delicious baked goods. Bright colors, intricate shapes rarely seen in food, and extreme precision make Kasko one of the most groundbreaking names in baking today. She has been hired by Land Rover to create a custom cake for the cover of their brand’s magazine, and gained popularity with her process videos on Youtube. 

(A wavy piece of moulded chocolate tops a mouse cake)
(This bright pink treat by Kasko looks too good to eat)
(Kasko shows fellow bakers how her moulds are designed in her Youtube videos)

Ester Choi

Architecture historian Esther Choi shifted her career to the culinary arts when she founded Mokbar, an authentic Korean eatery, with her sister. Aside from managing and creating dishes at the restaurant’s Brooklyn and Chelsea locations, Choi also gained international acclaim with her equally impressive and hilarious “Le Corbuffet” cookbook, published in 2019. The cookbook is more of an art book than a practical kitchen guide, playfully showing off Choi’s iterations of dishes inspired by the work of iconic Modernists. Combining her love for design, architecture and food, she features clever items like the Frida Kale-o Salad, Mies van der Roe Dip, and Florence Knoll Rolls, stunningly photographed, and presented as recipes for those as architecturally and culinarily inclined as she is.

(Mies van der Roe Dip)
(Florence Knoll Roll)
(Rem (Koolhaus) Brulee)

Jansen Chan

A self-proclaimed “carb dealer,” Jansen Chan, was once an environmental designer, but after a few years of working as an architect, moved to Paris to study something he enjoyed more; pâtisserie. He honed his craft at some of San Francisco’s finest Michelin star restaurants, crafting stellar pastries and desserts for their menus. Now, as a recognized leader in pastry arts, he teaches at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan, where he has adapted the curriculum to incorporate architectural practices such as sketching and project planning. Many of Chan’s offerings are tall, carefully built pieces of edible art, and teaching his students the principles of building is essential to their mastery of pâtisserie.

(This chocolate kingdom cake makes use of multiple shapes and frosting methods)
(This 30-inch apple cake employs architectural design to stay upright)

Baruch Ellsworth

Baruch Ellsworth’s tiny treats are the main attraction at Canlis in Washington, a high-end eatery known to be one of the most prestigious restaurants in Seattle. Born in Mexico and raised in California, Ellsworth studied architecture for two years before changing his trajectory to culinary arts, and applied what he had learned in architecture school to his intricate, carefully assembled deserts. The family-run restaurant is openerated inside of a stunning mid-century home, originally built for its founder, Peter Canlis, so architectural skill and appreciation is a deep part of the space’s story. Before becoming the pastry chef at Canlis in 2011, he gained experience at the Ritz-Carlton and other high-end kitchens. After only a few years at the restaurant, he was noticed by Food & Wine magazine as one of the best pastry chefs in the country. Now, at Canlis, he has helped to lead the restaurant to multiple James Beard Award wins and hundreds of loyal, desert-hungry customers. 

(A fruity Canlis dessert by Ellsworth)
(Pear sorbet and pumpernickel crumble? Yes, please!)
(A view of Canlis, designed by Roland Terry)

Dan Graham

As head chef at London restaurant Pidgin, Dan Graham is a young protege at the helm of a popular East London hotspot, which was recently awarded a Michelin star. His plating, based on the architectural principles of ratio, scale, geometry, and most importantly, how ingredients relate to each other both visually and taste-wise. He learned these foundations as a child cooking with his grandparents, who were both architects. After a few years working as a trained architect, Graham began work in the restaurant industry, and after being recognized at respected London eateries, landed a role as head chef at Pidgin. The successful restaurant is known for its unique ingredients (hay-baked asparagus and smoked tobiko are on the menu) and its ever-changing offerings. From entrees to desserts, Pidgin strives to serve art on a plate.

(Indian syrup cake and mezcal ice cream bring a blend of cultures to one dish)
(Goat cheese and vegetables have never looked so good)