A holistic approach to dining, which appeals to all of the senses, is becoming increasingly important. When Fazer Food Services plans a new restaurant concept, we work with three parts – food, service, and ambience, says Kristina Persson, brand and concept manager, Fazer Food Services. “Food is central in everything we do, but all parts are important and contribute to the whole experience,” she says.
To be able to serve the perfect meal, it’s important to consider the nutritional value, flavour and scent of the food, because eating activates all of our senses, not just our taste buds. Neurogastronomy is the study of how the brain creates the perception of flavour and it is something that we keep in mind when we create our meals at Fazer Food Services.
But surroundings, cutlery, and the texture of food also influence the perception of a meal. Even sound can influence our perception of taste, as Oxford professor of experimental psychology, Charles Spence discovered. In 2008 he won an Ig Nobel Prize for Nutrition for his findings: potato crisps taste better when they crunch louder. In Spence’s experiments, he amplified and muffled the sound of crunching. His subjects believed that the noisier crisps were fresher – 15 per cent fresher and crunchier than the same “quieter” batch of crisps.
Visuals and colour also impact how we perceive food. Spence’s research has also shown that people perceive food differently when it is served on different coloured plates. If you want a piece of pink strawberry mousse to taste really sweet, for example, serve it on a white plate rather than on a dark one.
Johan Swahn has a Ph.D. in sensory marketing and is a researcher at the Sense Lab at Örebro University in Sweden. He is currently investigating how food images on social media can communicate a positive food experience or craving.
“Sensory science plays an important role in creating and communicating a tangible experience online. I call it ‘visual cravings’. Here things like colour and typography are important as well as food motion. More than 80 per cent of all videos watched on Facebook are seen without sound, so how can one portray a food experience without sound and to the same effect?”
Swahn sees a trend whereby many restaurants are moving away from the traditional printed menu on their homepages and more to imagery and inspiring descriptions on social media platforms like Instagram. “Today a visual menu is often a requirement for, say the millennial, to choosing a restaurant,” he says.
“At Fazer Food Services we work with several things to enhance the guest’s perception of the meal,” says Kenneth Balieu Sørensen, Head of Gastronomy in Denmark. Here are two examples:
The Break Down Buffet
“Prior to serving our customers we encourage the staff to present the dishes for each other. In this way, we believe the staff takes more pride in what they serve. It is also a way to share knowledge about the food, which make it easier to present it in the best way to the guests. We call this method for the Break Down Buffet”
The Burger Effect
“The composition of a dish should appeal to all senses and cover all tastes – sweet, salt, sour, bitter and umami, also known as “the fifth taste”. Different textures also have an impact like crispy, creamy, smooth, dry, liquid, greasy, and hot and cold elements. A good example of that is a burger, which has pretty much all of these components: softness from the bun, crispiness from the lettuce, bitter onions, greasy dressing, salty, umami flavours from the meat and sweetness in the ketchup. This composition of different tastes and textures is something that we keep in mind when we compose other dishes. We call it ‘The Burger Effect’ and the umami taste doesn’t have to come from meat, it can be green protein too.”
Are you interested in learning more about sensory science and food, such as new proteins? Read about this and other news and food trends in our Future Food Trend Report 2019.