Designed Food

By Joe Duffy Nov 26, 2009

Food always tastes better when its presentation reflects the artistry of the chef's imagination. I've been fortunate enough to see first-hand how the art of food drives the world renowned Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck.

Last year, while working with Wolfgang on his new brand identity, I gained a new appreciation for culinary design. In a "A Day In the Life"-style adventure, a photographer and I followed Wolfgang around on one of his typically whirlwind L.A. days. I realized I was shadowing a true artist at work. Every moment of his day is filled with exquisite design decisions, which results in thoughtful and beautifully created food that piques our senses and fills our souls. We began to refer to him as the Picasso of the culinary arts.

Our particular day started by going with Wolfgang to the L.A. fish market, where he proceeded to immerse himself in the colors, smells, and textures of every piece of seafood he checked before sending them off to two of his L.A. restaurants--Spago and Cut. His attention to detail -- the quality of the fish's appearance and the key indicators of how it would taste -- was remarkable.

From the fish market we headed to his casual venue, the Wolfgang Puck L.A. Bistro, where he judged the presentation and taste of every new dish for the new season, making sure it all fit his vision and delighted his palette. Wolfgang made numerous adjustments to the menu and to the restaurant's seasonal décor. I left Bistro duly impressed by the fact that Wolfgang put as much care and effort into the outcome for the guest who spends less than $20 on a meal as he does for one who spends $200.

We ended the day in the kitchen at Spago, where Wolfgang supervised the photography for the packaging of his signature pizzas -- to this he brought the same sense of creativity, passion, and eye for detail. His delivery of beautiful taste is broad and keen, as it considers all five senses.

As a designer, I've always been particular about how the food I prepare looks as well as the environment in which I’m about to eat. I have an annoying habit of redesigning my place setting every time I sit down for a meal. And now, after my experience with Wolfgang, I'm more inspired than ever to elevate my own hand in the culinary arts.

At our annual Duffy retreat, our designers surprised me with epicurean designer appetizers that were as well-designed as any brand identity they had created.


1. Found images of creatively designed food

2. Wolfgang Puck at the L.A. fish market (photo courtesy of Amanda Marsalis)

3. Some of Duffy & Partners designers with some wonderfully designed sandwiches

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