This story begins with a grandmother cooking and making her eight-year-old grandchild peel potatoes, whisk eggs, and measure cups of flour. It is the story of the day a granddaughter discovered her grandmothers all mighty secret weapon: cumin. Finally, the girl realized why her grandmother’s cortadillo was so good and why she always went for thirds. At the time, the girl was too young to know what had just happened, but eventually, she would become obsessed with cumin and later on fall in love with food in all its greasy and crunchy glory. Jimena was the kid who would always try whatever they gave her, she felt proud, and maybe even a little brave, when the girl seated next to her, would decline the broccoli or beans being served. She wasn’t afraid of fat, or of eating healthy. She was proud to add chili to everything—everything. She even wrote essays about fish sauce … still writes essays about fish sauce.
My love for food has evolved in many different ways, but as of now it hasn’t put me in a professional kitchen or through culinary school, it has, however, created someone who likes to talk, eat, and literally dream of food (I swear on my life I dreamt of noodles last night). From discovering new spices with grandma Rebe to getting weirdly excited every time I enter a grocery store, I can confidently say my enthusiasm for food is real.
I went to school for architectural design. This meant endless all-nighters filled with meltdowns, laughter, paper cuts, eating Cheetos with chopsticks, seaweed snacks, and just pure craziness. Design school is really competitive, but also—whether you like it or not—it cultivates a culture of camaraderie and support. When its 4 AM and you haven’t slept for 48 hours because your project is due in five hours and someone buys you a coffee, there is no going back. He/she is your rock.
When taking a design class you usually don’t take tests, but rather present your work to a set of “jury members” where you are basically at their mercy. As finals approached my classmates and I all pondered and speculated as to who would have the honor of criticizing (tearing apart) our projects. After a couple of reviews, I realized that how you presented your design was key. Layout, typography, diagramming information, and editing was quintessential to a successful critique. Having a well-designed board would get you praise, but most importantly, it would guarantee a conversation about your actual design and not a conversation about what font you should’ve used.
Through my college career, I developed a passion for design layout and for brainstorming innovative ways to convey my research through diagramming. Frequent trips through the aisles of the architectural section in the library would inspire me to create well-designed boards. I liked getting my inspiration from precedent research. It is incredible how a great layout can make or break a design. One day I was at Barnes & Nobles wandering through piles of architectural books I could never afford and eventually found myself in the Food and Cooking aisle. Its safe to say my book wish list grew double in size that day. I had stumbled into a new world of inspiration.
There was no singular “life-changing” moment or epiphany, but instead a collection of moments that made me realize I was passionate about design and food. Now when I look back I can connect the dots left along my path from when I was younger, when I was trying to discover that side of myself, to the present.
I want to design food and eat design while creating something beautiful that tells a story.
In the end, it really is all about the story.