At ChefsBest, tasting is a science. Identifying high-quality foods is an objective process rooted in the expertise of executive-level chefs who have undergone months of training in sensory acuity and our proprietary methodology.
Long before any products are presented to the judging panel, ChefsBest conducts market research to identify food, beverage and culinary product categories. Products are selected that have similar placement in the store, price, and flavors or varieties. Often syndicated data (such as The Nielsen Company or IRI) is used to better understand the category and the availability of the products in it.
In order to ensure each of the products tested are representative of what the consumer experiences when they purchase the product, products chosen in the market research phase are either purchased from nearby retailers or shipped to the ChefsBest Center for Taste® in San Francisco. After arrival at our facility, they are kept in secure, climate-controlled environments in accordance with manufacturer instructions. Our expert team ensures that all representative samples are of similar age.
Products are prepared at ChefsBest Center for Taste in San Francisco with adherence to instructions provided on each package. Products are then placed in number-coded containers to prevent any knowledge by the chefs regarding which brands are being evaluated. Products are served neat, and in specific (application) when appropriate. For example, cereal is tasted both dry (“neat”) and with milk.
In this phase, ChefsBest Master Tasters sample products on their own, without any discussion with other chefs or the moderator. They take note of sensations like aroma, appearance, texture and the presence of specific flavor notes. They employ the SAQA™ methodology, which helps organize the sensory experience of consuming the product into the order of experience.
In this phase, ChefsBest Master Tasters identify to the panel their perceptions, and agree on terms to define those perceptions. This process is led by a moderator. With the moderator, the chefs discuss five specific sensory modalities: aroma, appearance, texture, taste and flavor. The goal is to reach a general consensus about the attributes of each product and the definitions of the words used to describe them.
Once the ChefsBest Master Tasters complete the discussion phase, they collectively determine what constitutes a quality product for that specific category. If the tasting included green tea, for example, they discuss what attributes of aroma, appearance, texture and taste a high-quality green tea should possess. They also identify what attributes the products should not have.
The Chefs are presented with fresh samples, and then evaluate the products using the scorecard and quality definition developed in Steps 5 & 6. Their data is recorded using proprietary software.
Using statistical software, the panel data is organized and analyzed for product insights. In order to qualify for an endorsement, the product must exceed the quality standards identified by the chef panel in Step 6.