Le Petit Chef

Mastering the Art of Healthy Cooking Together

Le Petit Chef is a guided cooking app designed for families with young children.
It aims to teach lifelong cooking skills by facilitating delightful,
age-appropriate cooking experiences  

SKILLS USED: Ideation | Interviews | User Stories | Affinity Mapping | GENERATIVE RESEARCH
Sketching | Informational Architectures | Workflows | Wire-framing |
GUERRILLA TESTING | Visual Design | Usability Testing


Laying the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits

Parents know that involving young children in meal preparation has multiple benefits. Not only does it lead to a smoother meal time but also an increased likelihood of trying new foods and interest in eating what they have helped to create. 
The ability for the child to partner with their primary caregiver in the kitchen builds their desire for connection and serves as an excellent opportunity to plant the seeds for healthy eating habits. Unfortunately, it is very challenging for both parties to cook together.

My Role

Working as a solo UX designer my role was to develop and hone the idea by managing the entire UX product development funnel. From carrying out primary and secondary research, ideating, user testing to designing the product and the users interaction with it.


As a formally trained chef and parent to two elementary-aged children I have personally experienced struggles with feeding my kids. I have turned to cook with my children in the past to help encourage and engage with them. However, I am often left with a large mess and impatient sous chefs.


The goal of Le Petit Chef is to facilitate the process of cooking together so that both key users- Parent and Child - can get all the benefits and none of the frustrations.

The Solution

Interviewing and testing with parents of elementary-aged children and their kids throughout the app design process and relying heavily on human-centered design and lean UX principles helped to design an app that was well received by its target audience. 

RESEARCH process

Zooming out before zooming in

I conducted market research to better understand the key challenges. Sifting through several demographic socioeconomic databases as well as published papers on nutrition. I quickly uncovered that the childhood nutritional education space was a highly complex one.
19.3% of children aged 2-19 years old are considered to be obese in the United States.
This translates to approximately 14.4 million children. (3)
"Establishing healthy dietary practices at an early age is crucial, since childhood dietary behaviors track to adulthood." (1)
Age appropriate activities which allow children to fully immerse themselves in the subject of nutrition education can help them learn these critical lifelong skills. Such activities could include the following:
The stress of the recent pandemic has made the situation all the more challenging for families.
"Even in pre-COVID times I noticed as a clinician that nutrition and activity tend to go out the window in a time of stress.”(4)
Dr. Sandy Hassink | Pediatrician | American Academy of Pediatrics
The Institute of Healthy Childhood Weight
The systemic issue of childhood obesity generates societal issues and economic problems down the line which are extremely costly to fix. Taking a preventative approach by educating the key stakeholders early is a less costly option. 
The 3 Forces which Impact Childhood Nutrition
"With a lack of nutritional expertise from pediatricians, parents and educational systems, how are children supposed to develop healthy eating behaviors?" 

Narrowing the Scope

Initially, my capstone idea was to explore addressing just children's nutrition however the research has suggested that the problem of food related health issues in the United States such as heart disease and obesity stem from a systemic failure to the education system as well as a balance of energy intake and expenditure. 

Solving the childhood obesity problem is a complex and socio-economically complex problem which is out of the scope of this project's goals. Additionally resolving bad habits is also complicated and not a scalable business idea because it requires a case to case assessment of each child's food environment and then requires behavioral assessment and most probably a costly team of doctors, psychologists  and nutritionists to repair. 

However, focusing efforts on targeting new parents and taking on a preventive approach from baby through elementary aged children is something that may have a higher chance of success with less behavioral and medical intervention. It is possible to expand the program out to families to older children but that will not be in the initial scope of the project. 

As to the how, a format which is easily digestible, digital and fun (potential opportunity for gamification)  has a higher chance of success. Additional boundaries of this project exclude the involvement of a social establishment like government or school and low-income and families with complicated food restrictions. The project may be expanded at a future time but for simplicity sake the scope will prioritize a focused initial audience.


User Interviews

Using Google Forms, I designed a interview screener to find some plausible candidates for user interviews
Link to Interview Survey Screener
To further understand the childhood nutrition space I carried out 5 User Interviews with the target demographic - parents of elementary aged children. During these 30 minute to hour long sessions we went over:
  • Feeding Strategies
  • Child Nutrition Challenges
  • Child Cooking Recounting 
  • Parents Nutrition Knowledge
  • Meal Planning & Prepping
Interviews took place at a coffee shop in downtown Bellevue, Washington.
View Interview Discussion Guide


Affinity Diagramming

Synthesis of User Interviews resulted in the emergence of several themes:
Summary of Affinity Diagramming exercise using Miro

idea 1

The Feasibility of Intertwining Nutritional Education into an App

Idea 1: Exploration of building nutrition education into an app
As suspected from the user research, the complexity of nutritional education and the requirement for the involvement of a medical professional along with the high degree of change in individual family preferences seemed to be too large of a scope.

idea 2

Pivot: "Immersion" Learning Together in the Kitchen

A key insight that emerged was that parents deeply wanted to cook with their children and vise versa but did not know how. Often time these recounting would end up with disappointment for both stakeholders.

Due to time constraints, high variability between family preferences and the need for a medical expert, I choose to focus on Idea 1 - engaging with children in the kitchen. There seemed to be an opportunity to help parents extract value from this process.

"the last time we made pancakes together... I ended up with flour in my hair, crying kids and a burnt brunch!"
Anonymous mom from user testing - cooking with kids recounting

Design Principles

cooking together

All interviewees expressed the desire to cook with their children but were unsure how to do this without meltdowns 


Each family is unique and has different nutritional needs and challenges


Parents experienced recipe fatigue, and difficulty finding recipes they trusted


In order to foster a deeper understanding and empathy towards the needs of the parent stakeholder, I have created a compelling persona named Hannah.
Hannah, a dedicated and multitasking working mom, who grapples with a multitude of challenges when it comes to ensuring her children's nutrition. Juggling a demanding career and family responsibilities, Hannah faces the following hurdles in her quest to provide the best for her children. By delving into Hannah's experiences and perspectives, we gain valuable insights into the intricate dynamics of a modern parent's journey, allowing us to design solutions that effectively address her needs and alleviate her concerns.

“High interest in cooking with kids...unsure how to execute without child meltdowns, tantrums, waiting issues etc..."
- Mom from User Interview


2 Key Stakeholders: [Primary] Parent & [Secondary] Child

The Kitchen is a Playground

Building empathy with the child user

I acquired invaluable insights into the intricacies of cooking with young children through hands-on experimentation in the kitchen with a group of 5 different chefs aged between 4-10 years old.

waiting is hard!

I identified the challenges associated with managing waiting time, as young children find it difficult to grasp the concept of time. This came up during the cookie baking time, kids were not able to comprehend how long it would take and were frustrated with the cooling time needed after the recipes were done.

the need for age based tasks

Furthermore, I recognized that certain tasks, such as scooping out cookie dough, present difficulties for young children to accomplish proficiently. These significant findings underscored the critical need to integrate age-based skill badges into the cooking app, ensuring that it aligns with the unique abilities and developmental stages of its young users.
These images portray the difficulty for small children to scoop out cookie dough and highlight the need for age based tasks

design goal

How Might We

make cooking approachable and fun for parents and their elementary aged children while planting the seeds for nutriton and healthy eating ?
Sub Goals:
  • Promoting togetherness
  • Teaching healthy cooking
  • Developing autonomy for the child
  • Laying the foundation for a healthy life
  • Reinforcing a positive relationship with food



Using MIRO I created a sitemap to determine which screens were needed and designated their hierarchy. 

User Flows


Early Sketches


Using the Marvel Pop app, I ran an interactive prototype of the app with 5 users in a local cafe.
The goal of the user test was to measure the success rate of onboarding and finding a specific recipe as well as ensuring the app was intuitive

Findings & Recommendations
  • 80% of users wanted an improved search
  • 60% of users wanted more design consistency
  • 80% of users wanted better user control 
  • 60% of users wanted a faster onboarding
key insights
  • Search is a critical function for recipes, some users come to the platform with a concept in mind and others want to browse, building for both frames of mind was critical
  • A long onboarding is discouraging, users want customization but with minimal up front questioning
  • Being able to cancel out, and navigate back and forth is important in the app
  • Since cooking apps and websites are relatively common, it is important to stick with existing UI patterns for this space, rather than coming up with new ways of working.


Lo-Fi Wireframes & Wireflow


Mood Board

The goal with the design was to strike a balanced aesthetic which would be pleasing to both child and parent user. The design is to be bold, inspiring, content curated and the overall feel to be fun and light.


Welcome & Search Screens

Bold colors paired with appetizing photography designed to guide the parent user in recipe search and discovery. Content designed to be less kiddish in order to not discourage the parent user.

Recipe Screens

Rich videos, step by step instructions, simple easy to understand language and guided discovery all help in crafting a delightful experience

Decluttering Classical Recipe Pages

Traditional recipes content is text heavy and difficult to follow. Keeping the users at the forefront, a step-by-step approach with detailed instructions for each page seemed like a better approach.

Gamification - The Quest for Stars & Badges

Skill stars and badges dispersed throughout the recipe flow help bring the element of fun and aim to drive engagement for the young users.


User Testing

Round 1 Key Learnings

Testing with 5 adult users and 2 child users helped revealed the following key themes:

1.    Making the app more kid friendly There were some safety concerns with certain steps not seeing appropriate for children such as using an oven. Additionally a wish for more occasions to celebrate.

2.    Discoverability issues came up such as determining what the yield button would do and finding the achievements page.

3.   Opportunities to design a more seamless experience by increasing user control and navigation within the app as well as addressing the need for a welcome page.

Design Decisions

1. Making the app more Kid Friendly

A concern for safety in the kitchen came up around certain steps such as using an oven or a stove. This fear was ameliorated by adding bright Adult and Child to indicate which user should carry out a specific step.

Adding tasting, award and achievement pages helped to increase the child's engagement in using the app.
Adding a timer during steps which required waiting helped managed impatient little ones expectations.

2. Improving Discoverability

Users were unable to discover and therefore understand several capabilities of the app. The recipe yield button which helped user adjust the yield prior to beginning was difficult to notice.

The Achievements page which holds all the earned badges was not easy to find
The step for refrigerating the cookie dough was also lost upon the users.

The addition of discovery bubbles helped to guide the user to what certain features hold when they are first exposed to them.
The shift out of the recipe flow helped draw the users attention to the freezing step option.

3. Designing a more Seamless Experience

It was observed that 4 out of 5 users found the landing page to be abrupt. When further questioned, they expressed an expectation of encountering a welcome or explanation screen before being directed to the landing page.

This feedback contradicted the conventional approach taken by most recipe apps. However, it is worth noting that in the subsequent round of usability testing, this unconventional landing page approach was positively received.

Round 2 Key Learnings

Overall users were very pleased with the decision decisions from the previous iteration.
The following adjustments were suggested in the second round of testing:

1. reducing clicking fatigue

Instead of having a separate page for the stars which causes the users to sometimes loose their place in the recipe and also get annoyed with clicking to exit. I designed a star which would automatically appear on the page when the next button was pressed.

2. self - explanatory buttons

I removed the need of unnecessary instructions by making buttons more self explanatory. Making a switch from "Steps" and "Instructions" to "View all Step" and "View all Instructions"

3. icon & nav bar improvements

User testing showed that several icons were causing confusion. Users did not automatically understand that the "chef hat" logo was going to navigate to the awards page. The hamburger menu in the corner had no functional need so was removed. Finally the favorites icon looked like a ghost to some users. They said they were used to seeing heard for favorites. Additionally it did not seem critical to have the favorited button on the main navigation bar so I removed it for this phase of the project and reprioritized the badges page. The store button was also confusion since I had not built those pages as yet.


A third round of user testing was carried out to ensure the changes made were favorable. The feedback was excellent and users eager to see this be a real product. Which for me was certainly a sign for success! Below you will find the final prototype animation.

Final Figma Prototype


Metrics for Success

I used to following criteria to determine if this project was a success:
Accomplished Yes/No
Cooking Together
Providing excellent cooking experience free of tantrums
User Customization
Being able to adjust content based on user needs
Trusted Inspirational Content
Providing engaging content to both stakeholders
Designing for Kids and Adults
Attractive and functional UI to meet both users needs
Addressing Safety Concerns
Step notifications and Videos for Adults and Kids
Education via play
Learning by Doing

Closing Thoughts

If more time was available I would be interested in building and improving the following:


Mary W Murimi, Ana Florencia Moyeda-Carabaza, Bong Nguyen, Sanjoy Saha, Ruhul Amin, Valentine Njike, Factors that contribute to effective nutrition education interventions in children: a systematic review, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 76, Issue 8, August 2018, Pages 553–580
World Obesity Federation (2019). Atlas of Childhood Obesity. London, England. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuy020https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/facts.htmhttps://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/obesity-rate-by-statehttps://www.worldobesity.org/nlsegmentation/global-atlas-on-childhood-obesity