Picky Eaters

One of the most irritating things to any chef is when they have to deal with a picky eater. Now, anyone who worked on a line can sympathize with what I’m saying. It's one thing to be picky due to illness or allergy. It's a completely different reasoning behind people who have a natural aversion or taboo against certain foods. Now when a chef pours their heart and soul into making a recipe or dish, it's like a piece of them is going into what they make. They are proud of their creation. Dealing with someone who simply refuses to try a dish is aggravating. One must begin to think as to why this is. The answer? People have a natural aversion to certain types of food.

That being said, I will serve picky eaters but I won't do it pleasantly. With all different types of flavor combinations and profiles that can be made into different types of meals, to have an aversion for no reason is simply borderline ridiculous. I have multiple friends who will refuse to eat fish, meats or dairy products simply because they don't like the way they taste. When I ask them why they won't eat these things, why they dislike the taste, I wonder where this aversion comes from.

In Gastronomy class at the Culinary Institute of America, we learned about taboo and aversion. Taboo is a cultural representation of things that we won't eat. For example, cannibalism. On a similar note, we won't drink the blood of animals in our culture but some countries and their cultures believe that this is sacred. When someone gets sick from seafood and refuses to eat it again, this is a type of aversion. The question is, how do we combat these taboos and aversions in order to expand the consumers' tastes while still attracting customers to the menu?

I myself have a natural aversion to cauliflower. Don't get me wrong, a lot of people can like cauliflower but as for me, it makes me ill. It may seem ridiculous to others, but when people won't eat ketchup or other condiments, the same question has to be asked. Since there's no natural aversion to certain condiments, why is it that people refuse to eat them? This is my point. If we don't understand why people won't eat certain foods, how are we to expand their culinary tastes? As chefs it is important for us to understand how we can expand out consumers' tastes by looking beyond the psychological and the norm through our cooking and their selection.

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