Monday, December 2, 2013

Rant: Whites Make Food Taste Better

A recent Canadian study has found that whites tend to make food possess increased ratings of sweetness, intensity, quality and likeability. The study focused on cheesecake, and color was not the only factor considered. Shape was also an added element.

This is not about race. This is about plating.

In the study, cheesecake was served on four different types of plates: white & round, white & square, black & round, and black & square. The white & round plate seemed to be the most popular, increasing the perceived sweetness and intensity of the cheesecake, as well as its perceived quality and likeability. The reasons behind this conclusion are still unknown, though there are suspicions as to the reasons. The mere fact of its existence though should be considered by chefs and home cooks.

When plating a dessert, do you want it to seem sweeter than it is? Or do you want to mute some of its sweetness? Do you want to make it seem more intense, or less intense? When considering the answers to those questions, your choice of plating is an important factor. There is a reason why white plates are so common at most restaurants. Beside the aesthetic issues, it can affect how customers perceive the food.

However, the study's conclusions also found that black & square plates increased perceived quality and likeability too, though not sweetness and intensity. That would seem to indicate that they might not be the best choice for plating for dessert, but for savory appetizers and entrees, they should be able to improve your customer's perceptions of the food. Some chefs feel that black is most appropriate for strong cuisines or themes, especially Asian.

What about blue plates or green plates? Rectangular or triangular plates? The study did not address those issues though additional research on different colored & shaped plates will likely be conducted in the future.

The key to understand is that a restaurant experience involves far more than just food quality and service. There are also subtle factors involved, which patrons may not even realize play a role in their perception of their meals. Restaurants need to pay attention to every detail, as they never know what might or might not affect their patrons. Even something as simple as the shape and color of a plate plays its role. You ignore such details at your peril.

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