A cocktail with chocolate milk; or how about, chocolate and cucumber? Strange flavor combinations that, oddly enough, hit the mark perfectly. The Belgian company, Foodpairing, is doing a research into flavors that provide new sensations. Bernard Lahousse tells us all about it.
Kevin Van der Straeten
Comment this tv episode

Do you have an account on Sign in here
Do not have an account yet? Write your comment here:

Also available as a podcast:

Also on podcast:

Listen on Google PodcastsListen on Apple PodcastsListen on Shopify


A cocktail with chocolate milk; or how about, chocolate and cucumber? Strange flavor combinations that, oddly enough, hit the mark perfectly. The Belgian company, Foodpairing, is doing a research into flavors that provide new sensations. Bernard Lahousse tells us all about it.


Hi, Bernard. Welcome to our studio.


Yeah. Hello. - Foodpairing. What is that?


Well, maybe you had, this morning, a nice loaf of bread with some strawberry jam and some coffee?




Well, we're scientists and we have asked ourselves, "Why does strawberry and bread combines?" Why does strawberry with chocolate combines? So, we're a group of scientists. We are a food tech company, and what we have done is we have developed a method that based on scientific aroma analysis, can determine which combinations that you can make. So, we can explain why a strawberry and chocolate match that nice together. But also, for example, why does chocolate and chicken, or chocolate and soy sauce combine that nice together.


And how do you do that? You just measure that or...?


Well, we work with universities from all over the world, and we analyze ingredients. So, that means that we will extract the aroma and it's put through a machine, and at the end we get all the aromas, which are present into the food product. And then that's put in our database. And on top of the database we have a kind of a mathematical system, which will calculate one of the interaction between all the ingredients. And at the end you get the result, okay? The best combination with this type of chocolate, for example, is this type of strawberry. So, you directly get an overview of all possible combinations that you can make.


That's impressive. And, ... what is then the advantage for example the event industry? How could you use that kind of knowledge?


Well, there are actually many advantages. So, one is, for example, if you have a beer product and you want to link to a local ingredient, we have analyzed ingredients from all over the world, from New York over Sao Paulo to Tokyo, and maybe you are interested to see what are the combinations of my beer with a local Japanese ingredient. And, through the scientific analysis, you get directly the results. It's not only local. It's also, for example, seasonal. You see we have many users in Chicago, New York, Melbourne and Sydney. And... the restaurant and the catering industry is evolving much more into something approachable but also distinct. So, you want to be different from the same Italian restaurant into the street. So, you want to bring Italian food, but differently. And then you can add your ingredients to our website, to the tool, and then you can say, "Okay, give me now a local and seasonal twist to that combination." So, it's a really easy tool to see, to make a twist to your combination. Everybody has a superstar in his restaurant, but wants to be distinctive. So, with the tool you can add your own customized twist.


To do something different than the competition.




Are there other advantages for business to work with Foodpairing?


Well, so... Yeah. Sustainability for example is another one.For Europe, you have analyzed the fish of the North Sea. Because the legislation will change and all bycatch will have to take abort. And then the question is, "Okay, what can chefs do with a fish, which is, has a good taste, but which is not known?" So, there you have the advantage. It's a cheap fish, but how can I go creative with that fish. So, we have analyzed all those fish, and then you can go to the website, and see, for example, horse mackerel, it's actually a better alternative than tuna, which is over-fished. And then you can see what combinations can I make with the horse mackerel. So, you can really go creative with sustainability of the product.


But the margins in the catering industry are fairly low. Isn't investing in such a thing, then not an additional cost on top of that?


Well, when we started the Foodpairing tool about 10 years ago, we have fought a lot with chefs, and we want to stay... well... we want to make the tool not that cheap that chefs kinda chooses. So, it's quite a cheap price. We have... it's about 7.5 euro per month. So, it's quite... right, cheap.


That's indeed cheap.


So, for chefs, it should not be a... limit to use the tool.


And then you get access to the website, where you can start configuring your own ingredient, courses...


Yeah. For example, a classic dish. If you're in U.K., maybe you're, I don't know, an Indian restaurant. So you can add the Indian ingredients to your, to the Foodpairing website and then see, "Okay, maybe I can give a local twist to maybe there's some local cheeses from U.K. that I can combine or from beers I can combine, or from cocktails that I can combine." So, it's really a tool to help you, to create more efficiently new combinations.


But it's also a nice story to tell your visitors.


Yeah, we have many users, who use it also to go for P.R. We have local cho'clate who's done a lot for P.R. But you also have in London and then in New York, people that attract press because they make something differently, because they come up with a strange combination nobody expect. And then it's... It can be a hamburger, and you add your own twist to the hamburger. And the new twist can be a nice story to tell to the press.


Okay. Impressive. We will put the link to your app below this video.


Bernard, thank you very much... for coming to our show.


No. Thank you.


And, you at home, thank you for watching the show. I hope to see you next time.