Hello! I'm Gina Rattanakone, the artist and creator of Sabaidee Chef. I developed this project for my undergraduate capstone requirement (B.A. in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communications from UTD), and I knew I wanted to do something in honor of my Lao heritage.
In my culture, "Have you eaten yet?" is a common phrase to let someone know that you care about them. It's a question that's asked more than "how are you?" to friends and loved ones. Food is a powerful unifier and love language. Growing up, my family made sure there's always food on the table and to always share even when there's little to go around.
At it's core, Sabaidee Chef is an outlet for me to write down my family recipes so that myself and others can enjoy the Lao cuisine I grew up with. However, the creative decisions I've made throughout the project are more complicated than that.
Sabaidee Chef uses digital illustrations rather than food photography.
Food illustrations are the cave paintings of cuisine. Before the invention of the camera, the only way people knew how food looked like were through experience, memory, and drawings. Generations of recipes passed through oral traditions, and only it is only preserved when practiced. There is a special connection when we see one's culture in media and 2D representation. It becomes documented.
It's true, drawings may not be as accurate as a picture-perfect photo, but it gives room for the chef to interpret how the dish looks and tastes. Cooks can freely experiment to potentially create an original recipe of their own, just by using my documentation as a guide.
Redesigned for modernity, blends tradition.
From a design perspective, I did my best to improve the clarity that other online recipe sites lacked and writing clear instructions and messages. If you do find yourself stuck on a recipe, that is totally expected. It's a beautiful flaw in traditional cooking (It's like asking your mom or dad how to make your favorite dish, and their instructions aren't clear). It makes us experiment and ask for help, and brings us closer to the culture and community the cuisine belongs to.
My website has dedicated comment sections on each page for discussion, and also a chat box if they ever need to reach me. Sabaidee Chef is not just a picture cookbook documenting ethnic recipes- it is also designed to build a community. 'Cause food brings people together.
I am incredibly grateful to those who have helped me throughout the 4 months this project took to complete. This is a project I am planning to continue after graduation and it's all thanks to those who helped me build a strong foundation. If I have ever asked you to take a look at my project before it was finished, you are one of those people. More specifically, I would like to highlight:
Dr. Christine Veras - Capstone Advisor
The Rattanakone Family - my mom & grandma for their recipes
My dearest sisters for putting up with me
The 53 individuals who filled out my research survey. I wouldn't have made these intelligent design decisions if it wasn't for your feedback and critique.