At the opening session, host John Hayes proudly presented the numbers of participants: 1005 delegates from over 45 countries are taking part at this year’s conference. (16 years ago, at Dijon, there were around 400 participants.) Keynote speaker Harold McGee presented a tour de force, walking us through the history of kitchen science. The first sensory panel was put together by Count Rumford in 1800 (to taste two mutton legs)!
According to Harold McGee, the next challenge in cooking is mission & sensory-driven innovation, for example, meat replicas using heme extracted from roots, and thermoglubin (from Aquifex aeolicus) for burgers. Harold McGee writes for the New Yorker. His book “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen” is definitely worth reading (curiouscook.com
In the next keynote, marketing and sensory expert Aradhna Krishna from the University of Michigan gave an overview of her latest research. Fascinating: how our visceral sensory responses influence our food choice. Just imagining a smell or taste elicits activity in the brain that is similar to the real smell or taste, and an imaginary smell can make us salivate (a visual input is also needed). Thus, just imagining the sensory experience increases consumer action, and imagery can occur in any of the senses – touch, smell, taste, etc. The more you engage the senses (for example, showing food on a touch screen instead of a desktop computer), the stronger the interest in the food.
The knowledge about mental simulation and behavior can be used to make healthy eating behavior easier. For more details check out Aradhna Krishna’s website as well as her books: http://www.aradhnakrishna.com/publicationsresearch.html …
The day ended with the Welcome Reception – lots of wine, whisky, talks and discussions about the latest research projects, the newest methods and the future of sensory science. It all reflected John Hayes´ motto for this conference: go social.