Presentation Topics: Flavor

Note: these presentations can be customized according to subject area and audience expertise
Two Dozen Mind-Blowing Things You Never Knew About Your Chemical Senses
This general interest talk is designed to bring people into a better understanding of how we comprehend and appreciate our chemical world. In the addition to the reality that few of us are really trained in this area, much of the science here is quite new. So, there are plenty of fascinating things that can improve our abilities and confidence as tasters. This is for general audiences rather than professional ones.
Time: one hour plus questions
Tasting And Creating: Messages From The World Of Science
This talk is a short stroll through some of the science I encountered during nearly five years of intense research I did in writing my next book. It points out the importance of understanding human perception, both from a tasting perspective and also from a flavor creator one. These represent two sides of the same coin, but at the same time are entirely different activities. In tasting, we need to undo much of what the brain so helpfully tries to do, by separating the senses and analyzing the food or drink before us as dispassionately as we can. For the other, we need to understand what our audience’s expectations and biases are, and work with them to come up with convincing and satisfying creations. 
Time: 45 minutes to an hour plus questions

The Human Tasting Machine: An Introduction To Sensory

This straight-up presentation covers the basics of how our chemosensory system works, from the biophysics of receptors to biochemistry, neuroanatomy, memory, valuation/hedonics, all the way up to cognitive factors like attention, expectations and language. Humans are exquisitely complicated and fascinating, and way more capable in this realm that most of us realize. A few insights go a long way to enhancing our abilities in this area.

Time: one hour plus questions

Sensory Vocabulary: Hands-On

No matter how much one might read about flavors, there’s no substitute for getting your nose right into them. Flavors are complex and there’s a multitude of them, so trying to understand them in wine, beer or food can be a daunting challenge. To become fluent in this specialized language, however, it’s crucial to have actual interactions with them. While the basics of the process and the techniques of tasting are explained here, the majority of this presentation is a carefully curated selection of smell samples. These samples can be selected for a general food and drink vocabulary or specialized towards a particular beverage. They may be “grocery store” samples of fruits, spices and more, or single-chemical spikes added to beverages. These can also be adapted to the experience level of attendees. 

Time: one hour is typical, but sessions for professionals may take several hours

The Magic And Mysteries Of Multimodal Perception

As soon as the signals from our separate senses emerge from their primary processing centers in the brain, they begin to intertwine, meaning what we perceive it not always a single sense, but rather a carefully integrated impression incorporating all the senses and influenced by cognitive factors like expectation, context and more. This presentation was originally put together for brewers and beer experts, but the content is adaptable to any gastronomic subject.

Time: one hour plus questions

Pairing Food And Drinks
This is both a lot of fun and a great way to create connections between your product and its audience. Much of the process is basic common sense. A few simple rules to consider can avoid clashes and improve the odds of having a pairing that brings magic to the table. 

Time: about two hours, with a lecture followed by a walk-around sampling of pairings


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