"The pleasure at the table is typical of any age, class, nation and time; can be combined with all other pleasures and subsists to the last to console us for the loss of otherss ”

                                                                Brillat- Savarin

The sensory evaluation of foods under restoration

From the moment we come to life, the organism responds to various stimuli that it receives from the surrounding world. The existence of art, love, the vision of the present moment and the food that nature gives us, everything is perceived through our human senses, our brain and our sensory memory.

When we taste a food, a whole series of processes, complexes in which the physical or chemical stimuli that come from food interact with the receptors associated with our senses and generate nervous impulses that carry information to the brain. There, as a final result, perceptions of smell, taste, texture and appearance emerge. The ear is also involved in this evaluation, since the characteristic noise of some foods when cut with utensils or chewed inside the oral cavity or when opening a bottle of a sparkling wine, provides information about the texture or other characteristics. (2), (4), (17), (20), (23).

The sensory evaluation of foods in restoration is defined as the discipline on management of the area where man examines the organoleptic properties of food and beverages through the human senses, in order to guarantee the quality of food services. (1) There are factors that influence the Sensory Evaluation of Foods to achieve that the results are more objective and verifiable; These are: The tasting laboratory (tests), the samples, (presentation and preparation of the same), the judges (analytical and affective), the types of tests (analytical and affective). (4), (28 ), (30).

It is true that no one can deny the current advantages of:

  • The physical and / or chemical methods to perform diagnoses fast in the elaboration stages.
  • Health quality systems, the most applied being the System of Analysis Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) which is a systematic approach to identify hazards and estimate risks that may affect the safety of a food, in order to establish measures to control them.

On site hotel, the restoration is the activity related to the production of food and drink services, in which through prices the customer is offered the gastronomic offer to be consumed in the same place or not depending on the type of service. (19)                    

In the restoration, sensorial quality, nutritional quality and hygienic-sanitary quality make up the triangle that supports the excellence of the management of sale of the foods involved, based on the surrounding environment and merchandising. (1), (25)

The sensory properties of foods can be indicated as: appearance, smell, taste and texture; the rest are more particular characteristics of each product. In each property various attributes are framed that depending on the descriptors we can identify the profile sought. Thus we can refer to the appearance of fruits in their natural state (green, ripe or past maturity), the color of a white, ruby ​​or red wine, the color and aroma developed in many types of food when browning does not occur. enzymatic (Maillard reaction), the smell of good coffee, the taste of meat stewed in its juice, or cooked on the grill, the texture of steamed vegetables, or the crunchy texture of some foods, hence It is essential to consider the vocabulary of the property treated. (8) (21), (5)


Appearance: This property is evaluated by the sense of sight. The vision is usually the first sense that intervenes in the evaluation of a food, capturing the attributes that are related to the appearance, which in a culinary preparation will be: color (its analogies or contrasts),the shape, the size, the relief (foods with different heights on the same plate), the Decoration elements, the different cuts applied, .. even the delicate actions in the artistic kitchen. In negative cases, the deterioration rate is evaluated with this sense, etc.   

Odor: It is the perception through the smell of volatile substances released. In the case of food, this property is different for each one and it has not been possible to establish classifications or completely adequate taxonomies. If we indicate that in catering the Sommelier (wine evaluator) does have a list of smells based on different grapes, aging, etc. In the cooking of food, volatile components that influence the taste of food can be released when it is ingested.

Taste: The terms taste y flavor, respectively, tend to be problematic in terms of Sensory Evaluation. Taste is understood as the sensation perceived through the sense of taste, located mainly in the tongue and oral cavity (acid, bitter, sweet, salty). On the other hand the flavor , is a very complex property in food, since it combines 3 aspects: smell, taste, aroma and other nerve endings. (16). Culinary techniques, these reinforce or attenuate the flavor, also allow to achieve all kinds of harmony and mixture of flavors.

Texture: The texture of food is a very important characteristic if you want to measure its sensory quality. It is the set of physical properties that depend on the macroscopic and microscopic structures of food and that can be perceived through tactile receptors, oral muscles, through chemical receptors of taste and receptors of sight. present characteristics mechanical, geometric, moisture and fat content. In culinary activity, textural properties are highly weighted on the basis of food. Such is the case, for example, of the juiciness and softness of meats, the texture of pasta cooked with the term al dente. ..(10), (11), (14), (27)

Due to the above, we indicate that the preparation of food in gastronomy is a complex task, but it is even more complex to guarantee the quality of their sensory attributes, which in turn influence the perception of the quality of gastronomic services .

There are multiple challenges in the quality of services, among which we can mention :( 13), (18)

  • INTANGIBILITY. The services are intangible. The intangibility of the food service is that eating is a source of pleasure or displeasure, these states that belong to the subjective world of people.
  • INSEPARABILITY OF PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION. A service is generally consumed while it is being performed, with the customer often involved in the process. Let's mention for example, make a coffee service, a wine service, a cooking show in the restaurant, others.
  • Most services cannot be stored. If a service is not used when it is available, the service capacity is lost.
  • Tangible part of the offer of physical food products in the service, which influences the perception of the customer. The sensory properties of food are valued as a pure article.
  • RELIABILITY. It involves performing the promised service. It involves keeping the promise of service! Do not forget that the customer is the value subject of quality and in food services this is decisive.   

The restoration presents different types of food services: one in which the food is consumed after it has been prepared and another in which it is prepared in front of the customer.

Faced with this reality, the application of Sensory Evaluation of food has become a basic form, it is suggested that the attraction that is exerted through the senses is key. The above evaluations have served as a motivational factor to analyze the culinary technical aspects that guarantee the sensory properties in culinary operations, based on research (15)


To guarantee the sensory properties in culinary activity, we indicate that the 4 indicators that make up the basic unit must be considered, these are the culinary tasting criteria. ( 1 )

Culinary tasting criteria studied and established:

  • The characteristics of the food. From the most natural to those that are received in hotels with the most up-to-date technologies. The chemical and biochemical composition of food, its nutrients, enzymes, plant pigments, essential oils. Other states to consider are the different methods of food industrialization, sterilization processes, vacuum packaging, salting, curing, pickling methods, extruded products; etc.

Just to cite a few examples, they do not present the same organoleptic properties sautéed vegetables made from fresh produce than when made from industrially processed vegetables; you don't get the same texture  when preparing meat preparations with pieces of veal or heifers than when using pieces of lower quality beef, even if the same procedure and cooking time are applied.

  • Basic cooking techniques: - the bases, the bonds, the aromatics, trims and improvers .Considering these as preparations composed of different ingredients that enrich and finish the foods that are made in the kitchen. The final sensory attributes of the preparation will depend on the quality of these. 

The fondos as substances extracted from meat, vegetables or fish (fumet), which characterize the flavor and give name to culinary preparations. The ligatures They are very important bases from a sensory point of view since they are the ones that define the viscosity of creams and sauces and are made indistinctly from various ingredients. Example the Roux that defines texture in creams. The aromatics, preparations based on legumes, aromatic herbs and spices to enhance smell and flavor. Culinary specialists indicate that "perfuming" culinary preparations with wine, liqueurs, cognac, brandy or other beverages is based on the specific characteristics of the dish and the type of customer. And the trims and enhancers, products that are added in the finish to improve appearance, flavor and texture.                     

  • Model sauces and derivatives thereof. Substances that serve to flavor, assist and enhance the appearance y flavors of the food or foods that will accompany. (1), (22).
  • The types, techniques and terms of cooking, in aqueous, non-aqueous and fatty media .On the basis of the nature of the product and the equipment used, nutritional modifications in the food and sensory attributes will be obtained. (1), (24)

La temperature preservation in the cold and heat chain; once the food is prepared in the kitchen, it guarantees not only safety of food but also the whole of sensory attributes in various hot or cold preparations. (1), (7)


If we stop to analyze the Marketing Marketing policies, we will see that several motivations related to the search for food satisfactions are underlined. Being the main ones:

  • The motivation that seeks the security of nourishment, of finding a restaurant "Safe", and with hygiene guarantees.
  • The motivation hedonistic that influences physical pleasures. This motivation is important from a marketing point of view. The consumer goes in search of the pleasures that are captured by means of the senses, the taste pleasures more differentiated.
  • Motivations related to social and cultural needs. Currently, a sociable and less sophisticated cuisine is desired, based on a gastronomy that is part of the country's culture. (12), (29), (26)


  • That culinary tasting criteria, serve as a technical tool in the culinary activity, to guarantee the Sensorial Quality of the gastronomic offer! 
  • That the new current trends in food - strict vegetarian, ovo vegetarian, lacto vegetarian, macrobiotic, etc., are applied in the restaurants  of the hotels, but without giving up the excellent appearance, texture and flavor characteristic of food!
  • May our human senses always perceive the beautiful things that Nature gives us and among them the sensory properties of food that stimulate our appetite


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Article published by the MSc. María Esther Abreu Rojas. Principal Prof. of Food Science. School of Hospitality and Tourism of Havana

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I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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