Anand Upender

Anand Upender

Aspiring Chef, Maker, and Space-maker

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My admittedly terrible memory means that I learn and create new dishes by experimenting in the moment. I enjoy thinking visually about food and break down dishes into their simplest components (texture, color, freshness of ingredients...) to create cohesive dishes. I use food and cooking as a way to create spaces where people can share stories and gain a sense of creative confidence.


Work Sample

A Family of Cooks

Ingredients are a huge part of my family and culture.  I’m not talking about my love of eating but the respect we have for Thai Dragon Peppers or Burrata Mozzarella.  Throughout my life, I've created and been a part of a cooking culture that emphasizes traditional and deep flavors that are developed over long cooking and marination times.

I make: Sauces (pomodoro, vodka, alfredo, bechemel...), Pizzas, Vegetables (all preparations), Paninis, Cakes and basic pastries, Thai, Mexican, Indian, American. I want to learn: handmaking Mozzarella, Raviolli, sous vide. Italian Level: Basic Vocabulary with 7 years of Spanish background

Creative Cooking Confidence

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I'm in the process of writing a thing (book, pamphlet, website...?) that uses the principles of the original Design Thinking (Creative Confidence, Guided Mastery...) to help kids become active "hackers" of their food worlds. 

Some of the rough thoughts:

  • Learning to cook without recipes is simple and decreases barrier to entry (understanding flavors > exact recipes)
  • Use sketching as a metaphor for learning to cook
  • Cooking as a social experience and way to build community
  • Break down barriers and hesitations from childhood (force yourself to fail and be OK with that, making a mess is OK, it won't always taste good)

Interviews so far:

"I was spoiled as a kid so never HAD to cook" --> Cooking is heavily tied to family dynamic and choices during childhood

"Anything artistic (cooking) is not something I have an inclination for" --> Cooking is thought of as an "art" or "skill" that is inaccessible to the masses

"Hot pockets are the reason I don't cook" --> There are large barriers to cooking besides time (mental, ingredients...)