A pioneering chef has joined forces with an Oxford University professor to create a multisensory approach to dining.
Jozef Youssef has launched ‘Gastrophysics’ – a 13-course menu at London’s Kitchen Theory with the aim of exploring the science and psychology behind how we perceive flavour. The menu challenges diners to think about how colour, aroma, texture and even sound affect how they experience flavour.
Describing the project, Jozef says: “We don’t manipulate or distract the senses. Instead, the Chef’s Table incorporates light, sound, aroma and even a projection mapped table to create a rich multisensory experience that works to support delicious food. Our aim is simply to heighten the guests’ mindful and sensory appreciation of our dishes and the flavours within.”
Jozef created the menu, using the research he has collated over the past five years with leading experimental psychologist, Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford. Set in an intimate studio in north London, the Chef’s Table seats up to 10 guests, while Jozef and his team prepare dishes in an open kitchen allowing an interactive experience for diners.
Following a Champagne reception, guests take part in a series of simple taste tests that are designed to explore each individual’s sense of taste, and the strong psychological associations that we have with the different tastes: salty, bitter, sour, and sweet.
To follow, guests are invited to dine on carefully designed dishes, using the finest seasonal ingredients, that show Jozef’s great creativity and skill as a chef, whilst continuing to explore the science and psychology behind how we perceive flavour. Each of the 13 small courses are conceptually designed based on a mix of science and art, yet at their core these dishes are simply delicious ingredients married with a mix of traditional and modernist culinary techniques.
These include: Bouba & Kiki – a dish of two halves that poses the question “Can you taste shapes?” with ox cheek bao buns contrasting with octopus and rice crackers. Ryujin’s Servant – Jozef explores how audio impacts the sustainable ingredients of jellyfish, avocado, seaweed served with cucumber gazpacho while a tasting of Chivas Whisky with spiced goats cheese explores the relationship of texture, aroma and audio.
About Jozef Youssef Jozef has worked in some of London’s leading kitchens, including that of Michelin star chef Helene Darroze at The Connaught Hotel and the Dorchester Hotel before setting up Kitchen Theory in 2010.