When I studied architecture at MIT and then began to put my education into practice, the design process became a discipline for me. Today, as a professor and chef, design continues to be a vital part of my daily life, and that process is one in which my twin passions—food and architecture—run a parallel line.

The dessert illustrated here outlines the design process for the creation of a new menu item for my restaurant. It started with a memory: drinking a piña colada at the beach in Puerto Rico. The deconstruction of the piña colada ingredients and the tropical setting generate the schematic ideas for the dessert, La Playa. Eventually, I settle on one idea: rum cake and a coconut shake. During the design development phase, conceptual options are generated regarding the form and integrity of the cake: as a layer, as a roulade, or as a container. At this stage, the concepts of color, texture, materiality, and proportions are introduced and details drawn. Then the dish is cooked, the parts assembled, and La Playa is ready to enjoy. ¡Buen provecho!