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The Science Behind Foodpairing | 0 Comments


What exactly is Foodpairing?

Strawberry + Veritas

Foodpairing is a method for identifying which foods go well together. The method is based on the principle that foods combine well with one another when they share major flavour components. Therefore the Foodpairing process starts with a flavour analysis of a product, that is to be combined. The process results in a Foodpairing tree; a visual aid for chefs and cocktailmakers that indicates which ingredients match from a flavour perspective.

What is a flavour?

An aroma compound, also known as odorant, aroma, fragrance or flavor, is a chemical compound that has a smell or odor. A chemical compound has a smell or odor when two conditions are met: the compound needs to be volatile, so it can be transported to the olfactory system in the upper part of the nose, and it needs to be in a sufficiently high concentration to be able to interact with one or more of the olfactory receptors.


Are flavours so important?

Experience the importance of flavour in food through the following experiment.

Take some sugar, mix it with cinnamon and taste it while your nose is pinched, you will only experience a sweetness and grainy feel in your mouth. You have to release your fingers from your nose to taste the cinnamon. In fact, our sense of smell is responsible for 80% of our taste experience, making flavour a key driver for the creation of food combinations.

How do you measure flavour components in food?

The product’s flavour profile is determined through gas chromatography coupled mass spectrometry (GC-MS). This analytical technique separates and identifies the various components of the flavour. The result of the GC-MS is a chromatogram. Here you can see the aroma profile of cucumber. The chromatogram shows the retention time of detected molecules and their intensity.

What are major flavour components?


Major flavour components or key odorants are compounds that you will effectively smell. Key odorants can be identified by comparing the concentrations of the odorants with their respective flavour threshold. They are defined as every compound that is present in concentrations higher than their specific flavour threshold. Cucumber contains a few dozen of different aroma compounds. But in reality there are only a couple of aromas which are important for the smell of cucumber.

What is a Foodpairing tree and how is it created?

Once the flavour components of a particular food have been analyzed, they are compared to a database of several hundreds other food & beverage products. Products which have flavour components in common with the original ingredient are retained. The results are then graphically presented on a Foodpairing tree. The chosen food, here cucumber, is placed at the center of the tree and surrounded by possible combinations. The shorter the branch, the better the match to the central ingredient. Beijing roasted duck, for example, fits a little better with cucumber than cardamom. The translation from the flavour profile into the correct Foodpairing tree is executed by an algorithm based on 5 years of research.

Foodpairing thanks its scientific partners

Firmenich is a leading flavour house with a world-class reputation. Foodpairing is proud to have the support of a company with so much passion for flavours, creativity and innovation, combined with an exceptional understanding of sensory perceptions and consumer and market trends. The division of Mechatronics, Biostatistics and Sensors (MeBioS) of the KULeuven with Professor Lammertyn and Professor Nicolai is one of the main research partners of Foodpairing.



Initiators of Foodpairing

SENSE for TASTE is a dynamic research-based company supporting chefs, bartenders and food companies in their search for tasteful food. Our team of scientists, product developers and chefs work together with top chefs, food companies and universities all over the world.

Mission of Foodpairing

Our mission is to inspire and scientifically enable food professionals to discover and create new taste combinations. With the launch of our website Foodpairing.com we support your creativity and quest for perfection.

The History of Foodpairing


The spark

In 1992, Heston Blumenthal (Chef at restaurant The Fat Duck, UK) and Francois Benzi (Sr. flavourist at Firmenich) hypothesized that great food can be created when food components, with a common flavor, are combined.

In 2004 SENSE for TASTE took the initiative to research the fundamentals of this hypothesis, what we now refer to as Foodpairing. Over the last five years, SENSE for TASTE has created a database containing more than 1000 ingredients with their corresponding flavour profile. The initial proof-of-concept was done in collaboration with top-chefs, including Sang-Hoon Degeimbre (L’air du temps, **star Michelin) and Sergio Herman (Oud Sluis, 20/20 Gault Millau, ***star Michelin).

Global interest

The website Foodpairing.com, first presented at the world famous gastronomic event ‘Lo mejor de la gastronomia’ in San Sebastian, Spain in 2007, was enthusiastically received by attendees and created a worldwide interest.

The Flemish Primitives

The Flemish Primitives

In January 2008, ‘The Flemish Primitives’ was initiated, a yearly event hosted by the Flanders Taste Foundation as part of their mission to promote Belgian gastronomy.

Their first culinary event hosted was fully dedicated to the subject of Foodpairing. Key note presentations were given by masters of modern cuisine and supporters of the foodpairing methodology: Heston Blumenthal, Albert Adrià (El Bulli ES), Peter Goossens (Hof van Cleve - BE), Dominique Persoone (SHOCK-O-LATIER), Ben Roche (Moto, Chicago USA) and many others. More than 1000 people witnessed a superb event, for which SENSE for TASTE was the creative force.

What’s next:

Today, the Foodpairing website is used by more than 200.000 professional chefs, food enthusiasts and mixologists per year.
Foodpairing.com is the central hub of the activities of SENSE for TASTE.

In the future, as a user, you can expect to receive on a continuous basis:

• New Foodpairing trees of regional ingredients
• New Foodpairing info on local brands and recipes
• New inspirational tools to create taste combinations

How To By Peter Cuocquyt

Peter Coucquyt

Dear chef,
Dear foodie,

When making new recipes or menus, we sometimes get stuck and need inspiration. For me, Foodpairing has always been an ideal tool to trigger my creativity. In only 1 view of the Foodpairing tree a whole range of possible combinations appear, from fish to meat, spices to botanicals, fruits to vegetables, even local and seasonal ingredients.

During my professional career as a chef, I learned about Foodpairing and it struck me that nobody had thought of this before. It seems to me that the Foodpairing theory is the basis of recipe creation! I was intrigued and from that point onwards I got actively involved in the development of Foodpairing.

The expertise I have built over the last years in making Foodpairing recipes, I would like to share with you. Become member and I will provide you tips and tricks for flavorful cooking.

Foodpairing for the first time?
Then I advise you to start with a known combination and give it a little twist. Take for example, steak, french fries and bearnaise sauce. Try to give a little twist to this classical dish, by replacing a part of the butter by chocolate. A combination you can find in the Foodpairing tree of grilled beef.

Peter Coucquyt is a former Michelin star chef and has build an extended knowledge and cooking expertise by working at some of the finest restaurants in the world, teaching to chefs on cooking and chemistry. He is the president of Flanders Taste Foundation, the organization behind the Flemish Primitives, one of the most innovative culinary events in the world.

How did we conceive this Foodpairing combination?

Peter Grilled Beef

Game finished with a dark chocolate sauce is a known combination. However white chocolate combined with meat is a more challenging combination. If we look at the Dominican Republic white chocolate Foodpairing tree, we do see possible combinations with grilled meat.

This chocolate is a particular white chocolate because a part of the cocoa butter is not deodorized and contains dark chocolate notes. So let’s make a white chocolate béarnaise. In the same tree we see tarragon and fried potatoes as possible combinations with the chocolate.

150 g Blanc Collection ‘Dominican Republic’ 31


370 g shallot
25 g tarragon
20 g crushed white pepper
1 bottle of white wine
260 g vinegar
20 g salt
500 g water
8 g sugar

Peter Grilled Beef


4 egg yolks
55 g gastrique
100 g butter
pepper en salt


- mix all ingredients and cook
- infuse
- sieve and cool down


- mix egg yolk with gastrique and beat on fire
- chop the chocolate in small pieces en mix with the whipped egg yolks
- stir the butter in the mix followed by the tarragon
- season with salt and pepper





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