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Bernard Lahousse | Science of Food Pairing

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As both a bio-engineer and gastronomoic scientist, Bernard Lahousse is seen as one of the world’s foremost food innovators. At WHAT DESIGN CAN DO! 2014, the Belgian founder of foodpairing.com offered his scientific expertise on the topic of experimental eating, how he designs with tastes, and the ways in which the intersection of food and chemistry can lead to both palpable and visual excellence. The methodology lahousse has developed is called ‘foodpairing’ and builds on the principle that seemingly disparate ingredients combine well with one another when they share flavor components. For example: coffee, strawberries and asparagus make an excellent combination, since vanilla is the primary essence in all three. The way our palates experience flavor is much more complex than taste alone. in fact, it is influenced primarily through the interaction between the senses. Of these our ability to smell is responsible for about 80% of our perception of taste, beckoning the question ‘how important is our nose and how does that influence the food and combinations we like?’ In 2007, lahousse began the interactive website foodpairing.com, a food-tech company at the cutting edge of gastronomy, computational science and digital advertising. It operates as one of the world’s largest ingredient and flavor databases with a series of unique algorithms capable of calculating combinations and fully novel recipes. In addition to offering pre-determined experimental concoctions, the site engages the visitor with easy-to-follow graphics, known as ‘trees’, with branches of foods that share basic aroma and odor profiles on a molecular level. the purpose is to inspire both chefs and anyone interested in cuisine to experiment with new combinations and ideas. 

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