Culture Comforts

Investigating cultural norms and notions of comfort food




Concept Development
Creative Direction
Food & Drink Design
Event Design


Food & Drink



Exploring the concept of comfort food

It all started with discussions about comfort food. Where do these foods come from? How could they be translated across different cultures? And how could we challenge perception of a dish, and ingredients, to create a new experience?


Astoria, thought to be the first known mention of creature comforts
Image: Amazon


Go To Work on An Egg advert featuring Tony Hancock shown in 1950s Britain
Image: Sky News


The iconic ramen scene from comedy film Tampopo
Image: Medium


52 million year old tomatillo fossil found in Patagonia
Image: Smithsonian Magazine


Ya Kun’s story begins in 1944, when Loi Ah Koon first began selling kaya toast in Singapore
Image: The Peak

Blending the familiar and foreign

Inspired by tasting menus and travels, we wanted to bring references and flavours together in a way that would feel recognisable, but with a twist.

It was an opportunity to share historical and gastronomic research in an accessible manner whilst acknowledging the constant evolution of cultural norms.

A series of staples, starting with eggs

We created a five-course meal based on common ingredients and foods from around the world: eggs, sausages, skins, burgers and ramen noodles. A drink pairing was provided with each course.

The menu began by exploring our childhood memories of the classic breakfast staples – the humble eggs. Cantonese-style rice porridge is topped with a cured yolk instead of century egg, while kaya toast is merged with eggs and soldiers to create crispy beancurd sticks with kaya (a fragrant coconut egg jam) for dipping.


Congee | China

Rice, tarragon broth, chive foam, cured egg yolk

Kaya Soldiers | United Kingdom & Singapore

Beetroot pickled eggs, spiced kaya, crispy beancurd soldiers

Paired with Keigetsu sake and/or
hibiscus flower tea

Sketch of the Eggs course
We screened one of the Go to Work on an Egg ads during the first course
Instagram story from one of our guests

Tales of controversy

The next course was all about sausage. Sausage rolls are ubiquitous in the UK but their current form originated in France (a very controversial idea to many Brits) while the hot dog bun may have been created so that customers could hold freshly-cooked sausages without being burned.

Continuing our mixing of East and West, we added Asian influences throughout the dough and seasonings of this British classic.


Sausage Roll | France

Sausage meat, pickled mustard greens, satay sauce, dried shrimp, Chinese chives

Hot Dog Bun | United States

Bratwurst, bao bun, ketchup, mustard, pickles, crispy onions

Paired with Brooklyn Old-Fashioned

Frankfurter stall from The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites
Sketch of the Hot Dog Bun

Everywhere you go - there’s always a dumpling

The third course shines a spotlight on different types of wrappings and dumplings. Ubiquitous around the world and in various forms, we wanted to create tacos with Chinese flavours, and dumplings with Mexican-influenced fillings.


Taco | Mexico

Toasted rice flour tortilla, Szechuan peppercorn milk-poached fish, mango salsa, pickled onions

Dumplings | China

Black bean, chipotle, chocolate
soup dumpling

Tomato, pepper, aubergine,
sweet potato nightshade
crystal skin dumpling

Paired with a Yuzu Lagerita
The Willow Pattern Teahouse, Shanghai
Sketch of the Taco

An all-American meal reflecting changing demographics

Like most Western nations, the demographic make-up of America is changing. Our fourth item on the menu served a mini meal of burger, fries and soda – in classic aluminium trays with bright yellow napkins, but with distinct Asian flavours from China, Vietnam and Korea.

Burger & Fries

Burger | United States

Seared crispy hirata bun, char siu-style beef, pickled mooli, pak choi, mango ketchup

Fries | Belgium

Deep fried yam

Paired with a ‘Coke can’ cocktail

Charlie Nagreen or 'Hamburger Charlie' from Home of the Hamburger
Bao burger testing
Instagram story from one of our guests

Rethinking ramen

The final chapter of the meal was ramen, during which we screened a short clip from the comedy film Tampopo. From noodles to toppings, we reimagined each element of ramen in dessert form, bringing it together in a petite bowl.


Tonkotsu | Japan

Mochiko noodles, matcha broth, bamboo tuile, milk jelly and 
saffron cream egg

Paired with Bodego Ochoa moscatel or Coedo Shikkoku black lager

Yokohama, Japan circa 1908
Behind the scenes prep

A field study of food

In keeping with the theme of cultural exploration, menus were crafted to resemble investigation folders, as though a researcher had bundled their notes together.

Each contained a collection of images, notes and other clippings in various sizes, with colours inspired by notebooks and folders. These were customised for each guest depending on dietary requests, stitched together and placed in translucent envelopes.

A good start, more to come

We had a successful event with 8 guests – the feedback we received was encouraging and inspired us to think about other research themes and menus for the future.

Created with

Ben Pendlebury, Jewel Tai

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