Create Multi-Sensory Experiences for Your Diners

January 2018

It can be tempting for operators to focus primarily on how their offerings look and taste, but many are starting to pay more attention to touch, smell and sound. Making a positive impact on all five senses is a key way to elevate an eating experience, leading to positive word of mouth and shares on social media.

Mintel has cited texture in particular as an area primed for growth in 2018. Texture exploration in Asia has led to food and drinks with an uncommon tactile nature. These Asian Tea-Smoked Turkey Filets are marinated in sake, mirin, soy sauce and a blend of spices, then smoked and served on steamed buns with seasoned hoisin sauce.

Smoking is a popular preparation technique in part because it heightens flavor. In these Smoked Jerk Turkey Thighs, turkey is smoked over oak chips, seared on a grill and served with mango mint relish for a patron-pleasing mix of tastes and textures. Beyond the food, the table surfaces and seating options influence the feel of an operation, establishing a certain mood and level of formality.

The olfactory aspect of a dish also contributes significantly to its appeal, and that again applies to the entire setting. With deliberate design and the right floor plan, aromas can waft from the back of the house to the front and create cravings among those who enter the establishment.

As for the auditory element of dining, it’s not just about the sounds made during preparation and consumption. It also involves the surrounding area—conversations taking place at nearby tables, soundtrack selections and more.

Per FSR, former chef Barbara Werner has studied different combinations of food, drinks and songs and hosted music-pairing gatherings at Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s steak houses. In Canada, the proprietors of a restaurant called O.NOIR employ visually impaired servers who seat guests in complete darkness, enabling them to concentrate on their other senses and gain some insight into the lives of the visually impaired.

These types of culinary adventures are popular ways to isolate specific senses and shape a diner’s enjoyment of a meal. It is often advantageous to make an intentional, targeted effort instead of trying to enhance five senses simultaneously.

What are some of your favorite ways to surprise the senses and delight diners? Share your stories with us through Facebook and LinkedIn, and find more appetizing recipes in our Culinary Center.


Global Food & Drink Trends 2018, Mintel, 2017.

Food Trends: Multisensory, Pop Up Cookspace, March 2017.

Goswami, Kalyani. Redesigning Restaurants With the 5 Senses in Mind, American Marketing Association, July 2017.

Hansen, Kristine. Inside The Daring World of Multi-Sensory Dining, FSR, April 2017.

Starr, Steve. How to build a multi-sensory experience in your restaurant, Fast Casual, September 2015.

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