Roux dining combines love of food with artistry

Roux is a pop-up dining experience that focuses on sensory and design elements, and was created by two industrial design majors with shared interests.

It started with a mutual love.

The love of design and food helped Rohan Thakore and Ryn Adkins, both fourth year industrial design students, to create Roux.

Roux is a pop-up dining experience that blends food and design, such that it looks past what is on the plate and focuses on the entire sensory experience of eating. Thakore and Adkins have done three events and want to continue to find ways to share their interests. For Thakore, a passion for food is where his path to Roux began.

“We had this love for food, we were both designers and we realized that we could combine those two disciplines and create something pretty special."
- Rohan Thakore

He grew up in New Jersey eating the food that his mother, a dietitian, made fresh by hand. By the time he was in the fourth or fifth grade, he decided that he wanted to be a chef.

“For me, growing up in that kind of household, I wanted to have some type of involvement in food,” Thakore said.

When he was in the eighth grade, he was resolute on going to cooking school, but his parents told him to hold off and not to give up on getting a traditional education. Next, he looked towards his interest in art. Knowing that cooking was his end goal, he found the parallels between design and food and applied to school to pursue design. He ended up at Syracuse, studying industrial design.

He thought he had to put his desire to work with food aside at university, but he ended up getting a job as the intern chef at the Catholic Center freshman year. He was the only chef and was able to make whatever he wanted.

“They gave me the keys to the kitchen, a budget. Every Thursday, cook for 25 people, I could make my own menu,” Thakore said.

Through this experience, Thakore's boss introduced Thakore to the Syracuse co-op and farmers' market, which started to open his eyes to the food scene in Syracuse. He would spend eight or nine hours alone in the kitchen working on these meals.

After not doing much with food his sophomore year, Thakore took an information technology, design and startups (IDS) class with Adkins and that was where the idea behind Roux was born.

“We had this love for food, we were both designers and we realized that we could combine those two disciplines and create something pretty special,” he said.

Thakore spent last summer in Syracuse, and used it to help develop Roux. They put on three events throughout the summer.

The first event was in Syracuse at La Casita Cultural Center; it was titled “Salt City”, and was based on the city’s history as a major salt supplier. Preparation began with extensive research.

“We went to historical records, we went to the library, looked up old pictures and maps, talked to a librarian and we created a menu based around Syracuse’s history with salt,” Thakore said.

The result was a seven course tasting menu, and each course had an element of salt. Through the menu, they told the history of Syracuse in three acts: Life, Preservation and Death & Rebirth. Around the room, there were infographics, posters and a salt wall to create the visual experience of the meal. 25 people attended the event and Thakore prepared all of the food himself.

A week later, Roux traveled to Vermont to another industrial design student’s house for a pork bun feast. Thakore went to a local butcher to get pork and pickled vegetables, and made 200 pork buns by hand for a music and art show.

Their third event was last August, and it was demo day for the Syracuse Sandbox. The pair pitched their idea and set up a gallery space to show off their work and, of course, a little snack: shortbread cookies with a miso mousse, sugar plum jam and mint leaves.

Right now, with Adkins abroad in London, Thakore continues trying to figure out ways to move forward. The plan is in the name Thakore and Adkins chose.

“A roux is a base, equal parts flour and butter, and you make it to thicken sauce. We were brainstorming ideas and we just kinda threw out ‘roux’ because it’s a base and we see ourselves as a base to create some sort of future because you can use a roux for anything,” Thakore said.

He hopes to include Roux with his thesis, and wants to work towards getting funding for future events once Adkins comes back. Thakore sees Roux staying in Syracuse for a couple years and taking advantage of a “developing food scene.” With Roux, it all comes back to Thakore’s passion for cooking and his dream for a future job in the food industry.

“It’s just fun, this what I want to do with the rest of my life, I think,” he said. “Roux and cooking and having a restaurant and being in the food industry.”

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