The design of dinner: How Philly chefs look at food

Surprise on the tongue: Jason Cichonski’s scallop noodles look like pasta, taste like fish.

Dr. Debra Zellner, a professor of psychology at Montclair State University who studies the psychology of food, will be working at Philadelphia’s Monell Chemical Senses Center next year. Her research and experimentation have resulted in some very interesting findings.

Zellner recently conducted a study with the Culinary Institute of America in which guests were served the same meal on consecutive nights, but plated either traditionally or more artistically. The guests, it turns out, actually preferred the flavors of the more artistically presented food over the staid, despite the fact that the recipe was exactly the same for both. In other words, a dish’s appearance has a very real impact on our perception of flavor—and on the amount of pleasure the same flavors can give us.

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