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The Pioneer of Neuro Cutlery

THE HISTORY

Go back a century in Europe and one finds cutlery sets with as many as 80 separate items, pieces whose purpose most of us would struggle to identify today. Not only was the range of pieces much wider then than it is today, at least in the houses of those who were rich enough to afford a full set of silverware; there was also a much wider variety of materials too, everything from silver, gold, mother of pearl… Looking at East Asia and Southeast Asia for nearly nine thousand years, two sticks of equal length, in many materials, have been used to pick up food by one usually dominant hand, how little have we progressed with our dining tools.

Contrast this rich history with the situation today, where even at the most experimental of restaurants, all that one finds in terms of cutlery are chopsticks, knife fork spoon, soup dessert, and tea spoon made of stainless steel or silver.Currently chefs are using crockery as an integral part of the design and visual aesthetics of their dishes. By contrast, the manner in which the food is delivered is not really considered. Studio William, a British Cutlery Company are pioneering a new era, offering chefs the opportunity to use elegantly designed, innovative new eating utensils as a part of the way in which their culinary creations are experienced.

THE WEIGHT OF CUTLERY

One of the things that has inspired us at Studio William is the latest research confirming the intuitions that we have held close over the years. So, for example, we always believed that the weight of our cutlery in the hand, as well as its distribution, was an important part of the experience for our customers.

Consistent with this view, recent research from the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University, conducted in a high-end Scottish hotel restaurant, demonstrated that people were willing to pay significantly more for exactly the same food when eaten with the aid of heavy restaurant cutlery rather than lighter canteen cutlery.

"Cutlery serves as the interface between food and our bodies. It comes into contact with some of our most sensitive skin sites, namely the fingertips and the lips."
- Proffessor Charles Spence

Delivery Additional Emotions

The latest research also suggests that the texture of the cutlery, both in the hand and in the mouth, can play an important role in modifying the experience for the diner too. Just take a look at the Studio William Textured Spoons™ to see how we have started to incorporate the latest research findings from the field of neuroscience-inspired design into the design of our commercially-available spoons.

We have developed a range of textures designed to stimulate the tongue (and lips) in new and exciting ways to enhance the chef’s creativity when it comes to food textures, flavours, and temperatures all contrasting and/or harmonizing within a dish. Coupled with new findings in the field of gastrophysics, the hope is that these new eating utensils might help change the way in which we think about our interaction with food.

Targeting The Tongue

Chef creates an ensemble of flavours and tastes through combining ingredients, often at the cost of the diner experiencing the quality and levels in any one ingredient. All ingredients combined as one… How often in a fine dining restaurant do you see a customer tasting the elements of the dish separately with a piece of cutlery, they want to try these flavours.

William realised the need for a delivery tool for allowing chef’s ingredients to be placed on the tongue, locally targeting the tongue’s papillary receptors. The Studio William Taster Spoons are compartmentalised tasting spoons.

They allow the chef (no matter whether they be working in a restaurant kitchen, or else perhaps an adventurous home chef) to play, targeting the tongue with delicious flavours. The flavour is delivered onto the tongue by the compartments. In doing so, the diner can get to experience pure tastes on their tongue. The mouth then becomes the mixing palette to combine tastes/flavours of the food.

Eyeing the Future

The challenge though, and one that has sparked the interest of London-based modernist chef Jozef Youssef of Kitchen Theory andProfessor Charles Spence an experimental psychologist and gastrophysicist working out of Oxford University, is to figure out which tastes, flavours and food textures are optimally suited to being served on such cutlery. Collectively, we are all interested in how the new and innovative cutlery can be used to augment the perception of flavour.

The collaboration, capitalizing on the skills of the cutlery designer, the chef, the gastrophysicist, and experimental psychologist is currently on-going. An exciting future in which Studio William can design new tools with which to enhance the multisensory experience of eating, rather than merely to better transfer the food from plate or bowl to mouth.


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