Cook for Me

Role: Problem definition, UI /UX design

Tools: Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, Marvel

Team: Adam Cho, Katie Wilkes, Jasmine Bulin

Timeline: Completed in a semester in the USC Iovine and Young Academy Program (4 months)


Cook for Me allows users to search for all levels of independent chefs for home cooking meal services. It is the TaskRabbit of home cooking, connecting users with local chefs to come to their homes for a unique dining experience.


- Research, Problem Definition
- Defining User Flow, customer journey, UI,  prototype, logo & branding



To develop a better understanding of what we are trying to create, we are taking this opportunity to focus on the lower two nodes: competitors and user experience. By narrowing our focus to these two nodes, we allow ourselves time to dig deep in competitive research and better understanding the proposal’s feasibility/desirability for prospective users (chefs and customers).


In our research we catalogued a number of competitors both in the same industry and parallel industry, reviewing pricing, experience, challenges, and more. We noticed the following themes:

  • Online/app services tend to serve high-density, city populations
  • Most “services” (aka not one private chef for long-time hire) rely on fixed/non-custom menus

We also noticed the following themes in researching online:
  • Not knowing what kind of kitchen a chef is walking into is problematic at all levels of the industry
  • Customers focused on/will pay for experience (not just the meal)
  • Chefs often form long-lasting relationships with specific customers
  • Only 10% of Americans love cooking. 4/10 say they don’t have enough time to cook, which results in Americans eating out at an average of 4.6 times a week.


  • What is your job/experience?
  • What events do you cook for?
  • How would you describe the experience of each event?
  • How do you get to the event location?
  • What is your price range?

Jasmine: The experience of cooking for someone is more important than the food and more research needs to be done around cost. Thought needs to be put into the preparation.

Katie: Preparation is key. There’s no such thing as being over-prepped or over-packed. And preparation is most easily codified with standardized offerings, such as a preset menu.

Adam: Always better to bring personal equipment if possible (knives, cutting, board, spatula, bowls, etc). Some clients do not know what types of personal equipment are available to use in their own homes- nor do they know if key equipment is functional. Pain points in certain locations: transporting food and equipment from vehicle to event.

Amy: The biggest problem with cooking at guest homes is limited kitchen equipment and unrealistic expectations from customers. Communication with customers is the key! Pricing and knowing what both parties should expect at the very beginning is important. Both parties should feel comfortable.


We distributed this survey to participant peers and gathered results from 50 participants. Our participants fall into the following significant demographics:
  • 60% are 25-34 years old
  • 60% live in a family unit

The breakdown of their responses is detailed below, but we noticed the following significant themes:
  • Majority (82%) of participants use food delivery services
  • Majority of participants can envision themselves using a private chef service for larger events
  • Majority of participants are either indifferent or uncomfortable with a chef coming into their home
    • However, at the end of the survey LA-based participants were asked if they might be interested in having a private chef come to their home on our behalf and 25 participants typed in their email to indicate interest.


On demand chef services fail when they don’t offer an experience. How might we bring back the experience of a home cooked meal?

OUR PROPOSAL – “Dinner Is at Five”

When you come home, dinner is ready. A trusted, consistent experience with chefs who know you.

– Make a personal chef an affordable luxury

Cook For Me aims to solve the problem by making home cooked meals accessible and affordable through an app. Independent chefs can connect directly with users, bringing their own expertise and resources, ie. Uber and Lyft. While the food is diverse, the experience is trusted, consistent, and comforting.


MOM, 38 years old
Los Angeles, CA

“I am a busy mom, so if I am not working I’m taking care of my kids.”

  • Married, has a family with 2 kids, one 10 year old boy and one 7 year old girl
  • Works full time job as a HR
  • Makes 100k
  • Jessica and her husband both work full time

Goal: After a long day of work, she just wants to put food on the table for the family without spending too much time cooking and spending too much money
Frustrations: finding time to cook, finding time to spend with family, finding food delivery expensive
Behaviors & Habits: Jessica is always connected on the phone. She tries to not bring work home but occasionally does. During the week, she leaves office, pick up kids from after school activities, goes home to cook for kids, help kids with homework before she can spend some time on her own. 


Adam and Jasmine conducted two “Cook for Me” trials that included the two of them establishing a menu for two sets of guests, buying ingredients and prepping that menu, traveling to the guests’ house, preparing, plating, and serving that meal before cleaning up. We conducted these tests to establish a better understanding of reasonable timelines, social interactions, and look for unforeseen obstacles that we might have missed in our initial research.

The first trial focused more heavily on navigating and understanding “the experience”. The second trial focused more on reasonable budgeting, serving size, and timing. A phone interview and email questionnaire was conducted after trial 1 and 2, respectively.



When booking a meal, diners navigate through a variety of menu and chef options to select their perfect, home-cooked meal up to 24 hours in advance. They are then prompted to include all the necessary information in an easy-to-navigate platform, with details including party size, dietary restrictions, home entry directions, and even a photo and description of their kitchen.

Much like Wag or Uber, diners will receive real-time updates as their chef is en route, and-- if the diner has selected for the chef to arrive while they are away from home-- notifications for when the chef has entered the building, when the meal has been cooked and plated, and when the chef has exited.

Diner Scenario -
Jessica had a long day at work. It is 2 pm in the afternoon and she is exhausted while still having further errands to take care of after work. She thinks about dinner for her and the family but does not want to find herself buying unhealthy takeout meals or choosing food delivery services with high delivery fees. Jessica takes out Cook for Me app and orders a chef to come to her house on the day off to prepare a delicious healthy meal for her and the family. Jessica scans her chefs by their reviews and selects a chef of the evening. Since she will be hiring a chef before 3 pm, the dinner selection has been limited to Y amount of dishes. She selects her meal, provides instructions for the chef to enter the house, and waits for confirmation email. At 7 pm, Jessica enters the house and sees 4 cooked dishes on the dining table. The family enjoys a delicious meal and has leftovers for lunch the next day.

Chef receives a notification when a meal has been booked and chooses to either accept or reject the reservation. Once the chef accepts, they confirm and prepare any necessary ingredients already sent to them from the Cook for Me ingredient delivery system.

Chefs are then guided through the navigation, parking, home entry, food preparation, plating, serving, and cleaning instructions specific to their reservation using a Cook for Me reminder system to help them stay on track. They are encouraged to add any personal flair or instructional entertainment if the diner is home, while using the system to remain on an clear timeline, ensuring they can meet their next reservation or simply make it home at a reasonable hour. Once the meal is prepared, plated, and enjoyed, both chef and diner may rate and review their experience.

Chef Scenario - 
Chef X is about to begin his daily shift as a part-time Cook for Me Chef. He takes out his phone and changes his status to available on the smartphone app. He later receives a notification for a “dinner within 24 hours” request from Jessica.


Hand holding the bowl gesture represents act of receiving warm and cooked ready-to-eat meal from chefs. 




“Liked that food was prepared. Child with special preferences. Important for her to give cues. That way it worked out for everyone. Really like that I don’t have to think.”

“It was fun. I would use it either for friday night family dinner- to celebrate end of week. Small parties (up to 10 people- more than that, I would just get catering). Maybe use it for meal prep on sundays. I don’t think I would ask for something crazy (I have my kid and my life- just trying to get this human fed). “

“I’m not the type of person who uses things thing on demand- but that was cool. I’m a very DIY person. We don’t do it because a) we have the skills and b) I already feel obligated- but having them spend a couple of hours felt great to take a couple of hours for myself. Try before you buy.”

“Think the confusion about what exactly to do during the cooking was the biggest thing. But that might come with time...I thought this was going to be similar to cleaners. But it became a bit more personable than that. closer to a babysitter perhaps.”

© 2019 Amy C Hsieh