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Serving Grace – Infections using traditional share-dishes in Asia

By Yuean Zhang

Thesis MID '22

A cooking utensil set rest atop a red-colored surface. There are small amounts of food sitting next to the every utensil that correspond to their use in the kitchen setting.

How can the communal dining experience be enhanced?

Share-dishes communal dining is a typical Chinese way of eating together: In a feast, each diner takes food from the same plate and enjoys it with their chopsticks. Unfortunately, the share-dishes communal dining lets gastric germs spread on the dining table. Over 50% Chinese population has been infected by Helicobacter pylori, which causes 4-6 times the incidence of gastric cancer in the patient than in a normal person.

How can we let diners change their eating behaviors to adopt serving utensils? Based on the research, I learned: People change their behaviors not because it is good for them,
but because they will look good if they do. So a set of serving utensils specially designed for Chinese dishes to help diners eat elegantly and look good would be a successful strategy.

An image showing the different utensils and plates. The top row shows the tongs and its features: where to place your fingers, the hang hole, and a soft cut scissor. The second row shows the skimmer and ladle which nest inside each other and have convenient place to put your fingers. The third row shows the rice paddle. The fourth row shows a plate with the words, Private Plate.

The new tongs has a scissors structure helping diners cut off long slippery stripes effortlessly. The sleeve of the rice paddle protects diners’ hands from being injured by a hot clay pot. The skimmer and ladle match each other to prevent dropping sauce on the dining table. Moreover, a redesigned private plate is used to hide food scraps and maintain the excellent appetite of other diners.

A composite of four photographs. The top-right shows the tongs being used on Oil Spill Noodles. The caption reads, Tongs. Use new tongs to grab and cut off long slippery handmade noodles. The top-right image is of the Skimmer and Ladle being used on Sichuan Boiled Fish. The caption reads, Skimmer and Ladle. Scoop fragile fish fillet with the skimmer, then prevent soup from dropping on the table with the ladle. The bottom-left image is of the paddle being used to serve Claypot Rice with Lap Chang. The caption reads, Rice Paddle. The sleeve of rice paddle protects your fingers as a thermal pad when holding hot claypot. The bottom-right shows the Private Plate with chopsticks holding Scalded Prawns. The caption reads, Private Plate. Hide the food scraps to maintain other diners' appetites.

Considering the variety of interior and tableware styles of Asian dining, more material and color options are provided. The white thermal plastic version can adopt the relaxing at-home dining style, and this stainless steel version fits the dine-out style best.

An image showing the different tools in stainless steel set against a black background.