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What is Flavor? Flavor: an indication of the essential character of something

Food without flavor is merely fuel for the body. So what is flavor? Flavor is the engine in your car. And like the plethora of engines available, not one is created equal. It is at the discretion of the engineer as to how each motor will sound, perform and otherwise transform our daily commute.

Ultimately, chefs are engineers of food. And as such, we are also the creators of foods with character, or flavor. And a select few have the ability to design a product that appeals to the consumer’s subconscious. Flavor is what drives our craving for something that might otherwise be undesirable. Studies have shown that certain foods can stimulate the pleasure zones of the brain triggered by tobacco, alcohol and sexual intercourse.

These foods capture the senses of taste and smell, and trigger memories and emotions. They are three dimensional, and are more notable than the food itself at times. Take for example the original Dorito chip. It is not the little triangle of formed corn that makes a Dorito. In fact, the only way it is a Dorito and not just another tortilla chip is the flavor that coats it. There is no way you can eat just one Dorito — everything from the smell to the taste is intoxicating.

To me, flavor is the challenge to transform food into something transcendent. It’s the opportunity to add desirability across the mainstream for healthy foods. It’s the chance to place your artistic brushstroke on a medium that crosses generations of time, people and history.

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About The Author

Mike Buononato

Mike Buononato is Senior Vice President of Creative Food Solutions. A CIA graduate, Mike has extensive experience working with operator clients on product formulation and development through culinary and R&D positions during his tenure at Wynn Starr Flavors. Mike is a member of RCA and IFT.