Close your eyes and think of the best pizza you could ever imagine. On the surface, you’re envisioning the thickness of the crust, the toppings, the bubbly cheese, the aroma. As a chef, I delve even further, taking note of parts of the experience that maybe you’re not focusing on, but are no doubt registering: the level of gluten development in the dough, the oven it was baked in, the type of tomatoes and amount of sugar in the sauce, and the region that inspired the flavors, giving the final slice its distinctive taste. That is experiential eating: far more than tasting a simple flavor; It’s letting go of preconceptions and fully immersing yourself in every aspect of taste that leads up to that singular moment where each bite becomes so satisfying it almost stops time.
Product developers have the hardest job because they have to recreate taste experiences that elicit the same reaction that a chef can create with emotion, intuition and technique. This is tough to do, and I don’t envy them. This demand in a packaged snack, frozen meal or grocery bakery item is complicated by degrees of separation from the original culinary experience and need for manufacturing scale. From a culinary perspective, though, I reveal to them my entire path, helping ensure that the defining, signature elements are a distinct part of the final taste experience.
If we are putting the flavor profile of pizza into a savory bakery snack, for instance, the first thing we will have our customers do is mix and proof the dough. The mixing is the effort and time to make real food. The proof is nature’s time to develop flavor and texture. It puts pizza flavor into their mind in an entirely new way, allowing for new ideas, and more flavor authenticity.
Experiential eating is about seeking out authenticity and tasting something in the context of its creators. At heart, it’s a full-on sensory experience tracing the path and history of that food’s creation. Experiential eating is an opportunity for food developers to fill in the gaps of their flavor knowledge with new, hands-on experiences. Being a part of the chain that takes a rough idea and transforms it into a totally new and completely surprising flavor experience is something I’ll never get tired of.
To create your next flavor through the McCormick Difference, contact your McCormick account representative or contact us here today.