• Chefs Instagram
  • Chefs YouTube
  • Chefs Twitter
  • Chefs Facebook

Cooking with The Senses

 

Have you ever had a meal that really impressed you and left you wanting more? In this article, I will discuss how various components of a dish affect the senses, and how the chef might use those to their greatest potential.

By Chef George Zajacek

Have you ever had a meal that really impressed you and left you wanting more? In this article, I will discuss how various components of a dish affect the senses, and how the chef might use those to their greatest potential.


First, let us observe the senses used when we eat. Eating food involves a mixture of sensations:

  • Taste: we use our taste buds to detect salty, sweet, bitter and acidic.
  • Flavor: we use our sense of smell (olfactory senses) for aroma and flavor.
  • Touch: our sense of touch lets us feel textures, "mouth feel," and temperatures of the food.
  • Sight: our sight lets us to see the skillful presentation of color, elevation, and arrangement of food.

In my view, to master how to flavor your dishes, you must first understand how the body works. What is “taste”? Our taste buds are located on our tongue. We taste bitter, acid, sweet, and salty using our taste buds. Taste is limited to these four things. You cannot "taste" the smoke in chipotle or the oak in wine. The smoke and oak are what we call aromas and “flavors.” You experience “flavor” only from your sense of smell in conjunction with your sense of taste.

When your sense of smell is not functioning normally, you are limited only to tasting using your taste buds. A good test of this is to plug your nose and try to taste various foods. You will find that many food and beverages are hardly distinguishable when you plug your nose, or when you have a head cold.


The chef must keep in mind that taste buds are easily desensitized. Americans have become accustomed to receiving giant sized portions of only one or two items. While this may satisfy the diners’ perceived value, the chef who serves these giant portions does not do himself/herself any favors.

A benefit of serving smaller portions and serving in courses, is that by having alternate tastes, textures, and flavors from one course to the next, the chef provides contrast and prevents palate overload and boredom.

 

Videos

Cooking Videos
Watch Cooking and Technique Videos

Follow along with professional chefs as they demonstrate recipes and cooking techniques.

Featured Articles

See What's Hot in the Industry

Central bank of articles, insights, and trends in world of food and cooking.

Professional Culinary Training

Culinary Cooking Schools
Explore the culinary cooking school offerings

Pursue career opportunities in the culinary arts, pastry and baking or the hospitality industry!