How the emerging field of neurogastronomy can help chefs and restaurant owners build a cult-like following.
Neuro-gastro-what? Don’t worry, although the name sounds fancy it’s a simple concept. Neurogastronomy is taking the latest research on how the brain works and using it to understand what makes us enjoy the food we eat.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand the secrets that science has unlocked, or to start using these tricks to increase your restaurant patrons' enjoyment of the food and drinks you serve.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- What scientists know about meal enjoyment and your customers’ brains
- How the mind “tricks” restaurant diners into enjoying food more
- Actions chefs and restaurant owners can take to convince guests you served “the perfect meal”
- How to use Neurogastronomy for more profit and amazing reviews
Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure
The Secret To Serving The Perfect Meal
Like all art, food is a subjective experience. That’s why there are so many different kinds of restaurants. Everyone has their own “tastes,” of course.
But what if science could shed light on some of the commonalities between us? Whether our guest’s ideal meal is a nice prime rib or a vegan tofu salad?
The truth is there is a commonality that science has discovered.
Taste is not just on the tongue—it’s in the eyes and ears and nose.
Most chefs know that it’s not just the taste of food on the tongue, but also the rich aromas which give food its flavor.
But what about our other senses as well? Neurogastronomy studies the effect of all of our five senses on our perception of a food’s “flavor”, and its enjoyment.
The eyes and the visual impression of our food can also influence the guests’ perception of its flavor. Again, plate presentation is not a foreign concept to a serious chef. But scientists have also found that wine-drinkers’ perception of a quality wine can change based solely on the glass that it’s served in.
What does this mean for fast-casual and other restaurant concepts? Can you think of ways that improved presentation might affect the enjoyment of your guests’ meals?
A food’s sound has also been studied by scientists. They changed the “crunch” sound heard by test subjects eating potato chips and determined that the right amount of crunch was judged by the ears, but it affected how they perceived the taste.
It’s no wonder that sizzling-hot fajita plates make such an impression on guests. It’s the sizzle that sells! Can you incorporate enticing food sounds into the meals you serve?
When expectations are exceeded the meal is more memorable.
The element of surprise is a powerful tool in giving restaurant guests an exceptional culinary experience. This is why diners often love to recommend their favorite “hole in the wall” or local restaurants.
When restaurants exceed their patrons' initial expectations on price, creative food choices, quality service, and ambiance they are pleasantly surprised. Are there any ways you can think of to go above and beyond the expectation of a first-time guest, to create a more remarkable dining experience?
Food tastes better when you’re having a good time.
Another mind-trick that’s been scientifically studied by neurogastronomists is the effect of the environment and the diner’s mood. It’s no wonder that beachside resorts, charming b&b’s and the like have a reputation for serving great meals.
When people are in a relaxed mood, enjoying time with friends and family, are laughing and feeling positive the result is a massive increase in appreciation for the meal.
One Michelin star restaurant chef looking to take action on these scientific findings put mooing toy cows on the restaurant’s tables before the food came out. By getting his guests to laugh and joke before their meal he successfully enhanced the mood.
Through this simple gimmick he was able to increase their enjoyment and create a more remarkable dining experience. Does this inspire you to lighten the mood in your restaurant? How can you make your dining environment more friendly and relaxed?
Using Science To Get The Competitive Edge
Maybe while reading this you’ve already thought of some inexpensive ways you can take the same food you’re already serving and increase your customers’ perception of it.
And that’s the point. With their improved perception of the dining experience comes greater profit, better online reviews, and more repeat customers.
It’s about a whole experience, not just food.
Don’t underestimate the power of setting a lively and enjoyable mood for your customers. Create an environment with ambient sounds, good lighting, great views, friendly staff, beautifully presented plates and a bit of showmanship.
There is a reason why the most renowned chefs in the world also use these science-backed tricks of the brain to make their mark.
Creative service isn’t just for Michelin Restaurants.
While as a restaurant owner or chef it can seem like such an endeavor just to get food out to diners in a timely and organized fashion, don’t forget that all food is art. From the food truck to the coffee shop to the pizzeria and the BBQ joint, presentation counts.
Any foodservice business can set themselves ahead of the competition. Get the rave reviews, high margins and regular customer base your hard work deserves by using these scientifically-based tricks to give your diners the best meal they’ve ever experienced.
Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure
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