January 14, 2020

The chef in L’Escaleta** (Cocentaina) presented the results of a neuro-marketing survey to gauge diners’ emotions concerning a tasting menu. The duration and order of the menus has to be altered.

Fewer dishes and a rethink of the order of dishes on the emotional level – with peak dishes and valley dishes – boost the diner experience. This was the conclusion drawn by Kiko Moya (L ́Escaleta**, Cocentaina) during Tuesday’s talk at Madrid Fusión, as he presented the results of a neuro-marketing survey he had conducted alongside the Beating Brain agency and Valencia Polytechnic to measure diners’ emotions in relation to a tasting menu.

After more than a year’s work at L’Escaleta to gauge the reactions of customers to a variety of menus by Moya, the survey also concluded that special platings generate a superior emotional perception – which also occurs, for example, when a wine is presented by the sommelier and not by a waiter.

How did they measure emotions? Using three technologies: eyetracking, to find out the direction in which a diner looks; the galvanic response of the skin or heart rhythm, to measure that well-known “goose-flesh” sensation, skin reactions, and finally, electroencephalography, which senses brain waves to measure engagement, stress, excitement or interest.

The overall objective? To measure emotions, since “emotions condition everything. You can’t remember what you had for dinner last night, but you do remember what you had for dinner when you asked her to marry you 15 years ago. Emotion calls up long-term memory”, the congress was told.

More data show that levels of emotion fall by 15% halfway through the tasting menu experience. Diners can’t maintain it, and even if they are presented with exceptional fare at the end, “your brain may not afford the food all the appreciation it deserves, and it may lose interest. The brain needs to rest”. This means they do not recommend long menus.

Moya concludes: “we realised a peak-valley trajectory is better, alternating between dishes with high and low emotional ratings, to prepare the diner. This was how we noticed it was important to change the order of the menu to achieve this effect”. A trend change which those present at Madrid Fusión, many of them chefs, took on board with interest.

The idea is to change the order and reduce the menu, and also for reasons relating to reconciliation. “Restaurant hours must change. We can’t look the other way if we have to reconcile to find the best professionals. People don’t want to toil all day long”, concluded Moya.