Taste is the perception and experience of flavour. To a chef, this is the most critical sense concerning food appreciation.
Our taste buds or receptor cells bind with molecules from the consumed food or drink and send signals to our brain. How our brains perceive these stimuli is what we refer to as taste. There are five recognized basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and Umami.
Yet some scientists think that there are other tastes we can perceive, such as fat.
Here are some points about the sense of taste and how else they relate to your business.
Practice industry and sanitary tasting method
Food safety is a top concern for every commercial kitchen. Most restaurants are vigilant with health and sanitary measures to prevent food contamination. But, one easily overlooked or disregarded due to pressure is the correct practice of tasting during cooking.
The industry method is the two spoon method – a sampling spoon and a tasting spoon. You use one spoon to take your food out of your cooking vessel and then place it into your tasting spoon, which you then use to taste. It is a sanitary method that aims to limit contact of the taster’s saliva with the food.
However, in reality, some chefs come up with their methods. Some prefer to have a handy bunch of spoons. Some have dedicated tasting spoons in a carafe next to the stove specifically for tasting. Some even have several spoons in their pocket, always at the ready. Whatever method they choose, chefs understand that they should not dip these used spoons back for tasting.
Expand your food knowledge and palate
A well-enhanced palate allows a chef to identify complex flavour profiles.
We used only to know the four basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Then in 1990, Umami, also known as savoury, was recognized as a distinct fifth taste at the International Symposium on Glutamate. In 2006, University of Miami neuroscientists were able to locate the taste-bud receptors for Umami, further validating the existence of the fifth taste. Though recognition was just late, Umami was discovered around the 1900s.
Every chef develops their palates through their culinary exposure. Yet even for those who do not have any culinary training, you can go for in-depth palate training. This training teaches about the different kinds of mouth feels and identifies specific tastes and textures.
Or you can train yourself by being adventurous. It would help if you learned how to discern specific components from multiple layers of flavours.
If you want to improve, you have to try new exotic foods. At first glance, plenty of foods can seem disgusting: Smelly cheeses, new meats, or green juice made with buckwheat.
When travelling, expose yourself to different food cultures and appreciation, which can expand your learning. How is a food item locally sourced? What should it look like? Visit local food producers or attend events and ask questions. How do they grow their food? What other dishes do they recommend?
Do a comparative visual assessment of food items. Bruising in fruits and vegetables can mean a change in flavour, which can signify food spoilage. Check for the expected colour, as colours affect sensory perception too. The more you look, the more you learn.
Smell items. It is the next thing to get close to the flavour without actually ingesting it since the sense of smell accounts closely related to what you taste.
There is a benefit to having a broad and varied food knowledge. It creates personal excitement and enjoyment. And for chefs, it provides a foundation if one wants to create or innovate a recipe.
Practice speaking Taste
Descriptive words play a part in being specific identification of flavours.
Notice how a descriptive menu can introduce what a guest can experience when they order a dish just by reading how it is described. People pick on these attributes, which can either cause excitement or disappointment.
Keep in touch with consumer demands
Getting guests or customer feedback is a helpful tool for marketing and growth. Make it a point to know what your customers prefer or what new foods they are interested in. You will be more successful in recommending changes to recipes based on this feedback.
When foods are combined, we get a little taste of everything, but we have to be able to recognize it. Chefs who prepare varied dishes may have a better chance of honing a superior sense of taste. Yet, in the end, it is how they make use of it to fulfil their guests’ satisfaction.
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,