PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Menu Engineer Gregg Rapp joins a very short list of food innovators from Germany, the Netherlands and Japan to bring restaurateurs cutting-edge information on umami and its practical and philosophical applications.
Discovered and named in 1908 by a Japanese chemist, umami is considered the "fifth taste" -- one that is imparted by glutamate (think MSG). Specifically, researchers have identified umami as a "savoriness" that both stimulates the receptors on the tongue, increasing our perception of the original four flavors, and activates pleasure centers in the brain. Now, Rapp and his team are taking umami one step further in showing chefs, restaurant owners and operators how they can incorporate this concept into their restaurants to give customers a one-of-a-kind experience that leaves them feeling happily satisfied.
Most recently, Rapp presented his umami research to a receptive and enthusiastic crowd of food and beverage professionals at the Flavor Experience conference in Newport Beach, Calif. "Umami is not just a food experience," explains Rapp, noting that he and his team have envisioned umami as both a physical and philosophical concept. That is, just as glutamate brings pleasure through an increase of happy chemicals in the brain, so, too, can restaurateurs focus on other areas where umami can be created, including service, ambiance, value, food quality, price and the menu, thereby bringing complete satisfaction and happiness. "It's a synergistic experience that encompasses a diner's total involvement in the venue: A Happiness Package."
To help create umami, or A Happiness Package, through the menu part of that package, restaurateurs need to address the What (the ingredients), the How (preparation) and the Why (the reason it's on the menu). In fact, engaging menu copy and design contribute significantly to the umami experience -- and it starts with the Why: the chef or restaurant owner imparting his or her own emotional connection to the dish which inspires them to share that experience. Take, for example, a roasted chicken item on the menu. "It's important for that chef to impart to the entree exactly what makes it different from any other roasted chicken," Rapp explains. For example, perhaps the chicken is baked just like the one the chef had when they were an exchange student in southwest France, where the host made it in a wood-burning brick oven with garlic, rosemary, and olives. "It's more meaningful when you're sharing those things with guests that have triggered your own happiness," Rapp says. "They want to know what makes the item so special. They'll feel a connection and share in your memories. Plus, when you teach customers about the food you're about to prepare for them, they respect that they've learned the information from you."
What's more, restaurateurs can get appealing items on the menu faster by taking the umami approach. "Developing new menu items wearing a lab coat and hairnet is going to take much longer to create successful items than directly sharing your experiences and memories of flavorful, aromatic chicken from the South of France," Rapp says.
Fortunately for chefs and restaurant owners, Rapp is assembling an umami retreat in Palm Springs, Calif. for early next year. To inquire about the event, please contact Gregg Rapp at (760) 323-4848 or email@example.com.
About Gregg Rapp
For almost 28 years, menu engineer Gregg Rapp has been building profits into menus for the likes of Disney, Trump, Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel, Wolfgang Puck Restaurants, InterContinental Hotels, Marriott, Holland America Cruise Lines, Subway, Chili's, Taco Bell and many more. He has been featured on NBC's Today Show, TIME magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and countless restaurant industry publications.
SOURCE Gregg Rapp, Menu Engineer