The other day I had a discussion with a chocolatier who brought into our shop an entire binder of beautiful chocolate and pastry work he had done and photographed. It truly was food art.
Trying to convince me to come aboard, he told me and I quote, "We eat with our eyes." We discussed the possibility of him working for me. He described grandios plans he had for creating wonderful displays of chocolate confections, citing different types of stabilizers he can use to make the products last longer and still look good.
I gave him a two part reply. I said:
People only generally eat with their eyes the first time they visit a restaurant. It's the only mechanism the customer has to focus on something that helps them make a decision, because they've never experienced the food. Once they've actually "tasted" the food, a trust between the business and the customer has begun to develop and the customer is more willing to make subsequent purchases sight unseen. At that point the presentation takes a back seat to taste. Given that I'm interested in RETURN customers, and not a bunch of one-timers, I take the position that taste is more important.
For example: a small subset of our customers complain that we color the whipped cream on our drinking chocolates blue. They don't like how it looks, yet they buy it time and time again because the emotional response from the taste far surpasses the uncomfort they get from the blue whipped cream.
As my daughter so eloquently put it a few years ago: "Daddy, it doesn't matter what it looks like, 'cause when you do a chew-and-show it all looks the same anyway. The most important thing is how the food tastes."
From the mouth of babes..... I couldn't agree with her more. Personally, I don't care how beautiful the chocolatier's creations are when I walk into a shop. The first thing I do is ask what kind of chocolate they use. If I don't like that brand of chocolate, I won't buy a thing regardless of how beautiful it is. (although I DO take time to appreciate the chocolatier's skills with the product).
My second part was pretty blunt: Given my stance that the driving force behind what we do is customer service and product freshness and taste, we will NEVER, EVER, EVER, .....EVER use chemicals or food stabilizers to give our products shelf life. EVER.... If we can't make it fresh, we won't make it at all.
While I truly appreciate his skill with modelling food, that more or less ended the interview.
Having said all of that, what do you people out there in ChocolateLife Land think? I pose this thought-provoking question to you, because in the past couple of years of reading this forum, I've heard many people ask how they can make their confections more beautiful, while at the same time asking questions relating to how to extend the shelf life of their products.
What's important to you as a consumer? How a product looks, or how a product tastes?
I look forward to reading your resplies AS CONSUMERS.
updated by @brad-churchill: 04/10/15 06:26:32AM