Temporal design of taste and flavor: practical collaboration between chef and scientist
© Kawasaki et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2015
Received: 2 December 2014
Accepted: 2 December 2014
Published: 24 February 2015
Recently, many chefs have collaborated with researchers and used scientific techniques in their cooking. These researchers advise chefs from a scientific perspective. However, they do not know what chefs think and what concept they want to express through their dishes. Once scientists understand what motivates chefs in the creation of their new dishes, they would be able to provide chefs with more precise advice.
The authors identified culinary success factors (CSFs) from context analysis of a culinary magazine for chefs and visualized the relationships between the CSFs when renowned chefs trained in Japanese and French cuisine create new dishes. The results revealed differences not only in cooking techniques, ingredients, and condiments but also in cognitive structure (pattern of thinking) when creating new dishes. One of the authors (KS) has two Michelin stars for his French restaurant. He believes that umami affects the flavor of the main ingredients, which allows him to feature the intrinsic characteristics of the main ingredients. The chef’s cognitive structure is apparent in his cuisine.
Based on the results, the chef is advised to understand the nature of umami substances, how to recognize their tastes or flavors, and create a dish that brings flavor changes temporally. In a demonstration, a new dish is unveiled using an umami ingredient according to such a concept, which fits chef’s cognitive structure.
KeywordsChef Laddering DEMATEL Cognitive structure
Cognitive structures of top chefs
Recently, chefs have become interested in what is happening in the pot when they are cooking . Such chefs have collaborated with researchers and used scientific techniques in their cooking. However, researchers are not usually chefs and do not know what chefs think and what concept they want to express through their dishes. The chef’s cognitive structure is thought to be apparent in his cuisine. Once scientists understand what motivates chefs in the creation of their new dishes, they would be able to provide chefs with more precise advice.
Klosse et al.  conducted interviews and identified six culinary success factors (CSFs) involved in chefs’ development of products (dishes): (1) name and presentation befitting expectations, (2) appetizing smell suitable to the food, (3) good balance of flavor compounds in relation to the food, (4) presence of umami, (5) a mix of hard and soft textures apparent in the mouth, and (6) high flavor richness. Although these factors are important in developing new dishes or improving existing ones, the relationships among them are not clear.
Culinary success factors identified by laddering 
Utilization of main ingredient texture
Utilization of main ingredient flavor
Utilization of main ingredient umami
Featured main ingredient
Good pairings (complements) between main and secondary ingredients
Not too rich
Cuisine more Japanese in style
Cognitive structure-based consultation to chefs
Cooking techniques have been developed for processing the ingredients cultivated locally. For example, chefs of Japanese cuisine have developed techniques for using Japanese ingredients. Today, however, chefs all over the world are connected to each other . They can therefore use the ingredients and cooking techniques of other countries. For example, chefs of Japanese cuisine can use French ingredients such as foie gras and chefs of French cuisine can use Japanese ingredients such as soy sauce.
The umami taste is one of the basic tastes discovered by Japanese scientists, and umami-containing condiments are common in Japan . Although umami does not constitute a key component in classic French cuisine, contemporary chefs of French and other Western cuisines are interested in and understand the concept of umami . Japanese cuisine uses a lot of umami condiments such as soy sauce and dashi made from shaved dried bonito and/or dried konbu seaweed. Japanese chefs have developed a unique technique called konbu-jime, which means marinating with konbu seaweed. When raw fish is placed between dried konbu seaweed, the water from the fish is absorbed by the konbu seaweed and the umami compounds of the konbu seaweed move to the fish.
One of the authors (KS), who is a prominent chef in Japan, has a two-Michelin-starred French restaurant. When he was told to use the konbu seaweed for his Iberian pork dish, he mentioned that although he would like to utilize the umami taste of the konbu seaweed, the strong flavor of the konbu seaweed would not be in keeping with the style of French cuisine.
An example of a dish concerning that utilizes the chef’s cognitive structure
Roasted Iberian pork marinated with dried konbu seaweed
180 g of Iberian pork pluma (a type of loin)
25 g of Rausu konbu
8 ml of white wine
10 g of cherry wood chips
Trim the fat from the Iberian pork pluma. Brush the Rausu konbu with white wine. Heat the konbu in a convection oven at 130°C for 2 h to produce the Maillard reaction and smoke the konbu with cherry wood chips. Marinate only one side of the pork with the konbu for 2 days. Sauté the marinated pork in a frying pan and then slice the meat. Garnish with salted black peppers, pickled small onions, and wine-marinated white grapes, and serve.
Conclusions and future outlook
We identified the CSFs from discussion articles in culinary magazines and investigated the relationship among the CSFs, i.e., the cognitive structures of the chefs. We found that there are different cognitive structures for different types of cuisines. In addition, we offered cognitive structure-based consultation to the chef when he created the dish of Iberian pork marinated with konbu seaweed. As the advice for the chef’s creation was guided by his cognitive structure, he could receive the advice without discomfort.
Chefs consider a number of complex factors arising from their own cognitive structures when they create new dishes for their customers. Their cognitive structures depend on how they were raised, what circumstances they experienced, and what they would like to express through their dishes. If scientists can understand better how chefs think, there would be mutual understanding between scientists and chefs.
culinary success factor
Decision-Making Trial and Evaluation Laboratory.
The authors would like to thank Prof. Toshiki Yamaoka from the Department of Design and Information Sciences, Wakayama University, for donating the DEMATEL method analysis software. The authors confirm that they received no external funding for this research.
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