When the first episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table aired in 2015, viewers were welcomed into the kitchens of the world’s best chefs that made their process appear perfect. The show sent at-home cooking enthusiasts to take to social media platforms like Instagram to document their own forays into the kitchen. Madrid-based studio Héctor Fernández Elorza Architects took notice of the culinary fever and social performance to design Chefslab, a space for gastronomic experimentation that establishes an attractive stage for process. As cooking workshops have hit their stride, the space offers the experience-hungry generation a place to hone their skills in a thoughtfully photogenic environment.

A recent TripAdvisor report saw that food tourism is the most rapidly booked travel experience, with a growth of 61 per cent from 2016 to 2017. This illustrates the contemporary traveler’s investment in experience and learning both at-home and away. This year, Airbnb has also reported that the most popular experiences booked through the website are in the Food and Drink sector, with 29 per cent of reservations, followed by Arts at 14 per cent. The experiences sought by tourists bring them to region-specific specialty cooking lessons and home-cooked meals. A meeting of experience, documentation for social means and an escalating interest in cooking as a practice puts the design of a space like Chefslab in a unique position to make a statement about performative cooking.

The utilitarian design of Chefslab elevates materials through their application. At the entrance of the space, the walls and ceiling are clad in silver reflective insulation. Albeit functional, the wall and ceiling covering becomes a textural exaggeration of the serviceable aesthetic. As a mode of distinguishing space, any area reserved for preparation has been painted black – a perfect backdrop for a #foodie post. The serious environment creates contrast to those areas defined for cooking by the mirroring material.  

And then, there’s one area which ritualistically motions to the beginning of cooking with the installation of a large stainless steel washing sink. Here, guests will enter the Chefslab mentality: approaching cooking as a means for experimentation while being in an environment that says process is essential – as long as the stage is set.