The Fine Art of Degustation
Conceptualising, preparing and serving a beautiful plate of food is an art in its own right but the actual taste is the real pièces de résistance.
A food phenomenon that has become quite synonymous in trendy restaurants as well as in our homes actually has a name: Dégustation, which literally means to taste or sample different things on your plate/s.
Dégustation can be anything from 5 to 20 courses which consist of tiny, sample dishes which can include many, or just one desired sensory component.
“The food can be quite complex, or in fact as simple as your mom’s macaroni & cheese – as long as the skills, techniques and, most importantly, flavours are true,” says Marlise Whelan, Chef Lecturer at leading training institution for Hospitality Management and Professional Cookery, Capital Hotel School.
To help us better understand the concept, Marlise shares some tips to keep in mind when designing a Dégustation dish;
The flavours should be intense seeing that the dish is small. The different components’ flavours should complement each other, in order to create ‘magic’.
The textures promote and aid the ‘mouthfeel’ to help in the overall experience. To achieve this, you should consider cooking methods and techniques such as molecular gastronomy (Spherification, foaming, leathers, jellies etc.).
Eg: Protein, Starch, Vegetables. The richness will also play a role in determining the number of courses.
The dish should look appealing. You create excitement from the first time you see and smell a dish, up to the time you put the first bite in your mouth. You can look at a degustation meal as a ‘theatrical’ experience. From the first dish to the very last – it leads up to the highlight/ climax.
Food Degustation is constantly evolving, and it is a great way to develop your pallet and explore different flavours and textures.
Below is a menu sample prepared by CHS Chef, Marlise Whelan;
Spicy shrimp, cucumber and melon
Bread & Butter
French Country Loaf
Tomato soup, celery pearls
Grilled Salmon, Pea & Pancetta Ragout
Foie gras, Brioche, Grilled Peaches, Noble late harvest reduction
Strawberry Vodka Sorbet, black pepper crumble (pipette of vodka, dry ice)
Lamb rack, Pommes fondant, Wild mushroom ragout, Root vegetables Demi-glace
Sautéed apple crepes, poached blueberries, calvados caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream
Lavender Madeleines, Macaron, Truffles