Foodpairing is a method for identifying which foods go well together. The method is based on the principle that foods combine well with one another when they share key flavor components. Foodpairing is a relatively new method and is often confused with wine and food matching. By contrast, foodpairing uses HPLC, gas chromatography and other laboratory methods to analyse food and to find chemical components that they have in common.

Not to be confused with protein combination theory for vegetarians and vegans.


The foodpairing method is designed to inspire chef, foodies, home cooks and food engineers. The method aids recipe design and provides new possible food combinations, which are theoretically sound on the basis of their flavor. Foodpairing provides possible food combinations, which are solely based on the intrinsic properties of the different food products, they are based on the flavor compounds which are present in the products. This results in possible combinations that are innovative and are not influenced or restricted by cultural and traditional context of the products. This independence occasionally results in surprising and unusual combinations, for example: endives in a dessert, white chocolate and caviar, chocolate and cauliflower. Even as they are unusual, these combinations are quite tasty, because the combined food products have flavor components in common. The foodpairing methodology opens a whole new world of possible food combinations.

Secondly, foodpairing is able to provide a basis for the success of traditionally settled food combinations. It is not a coincidence that the vast majority of the traditional top hit combinations, like bacon and cheese, asparagus and butter have many flavor components in common.[1]


Experimenting with salty ingredients and chocolate, Heston Blumenthal, chef of The Fat Duck, discovered that caviar and white chocolate are a perfect match.[2] To find out why, he contacted François Benzi of Firmenich, the largest privately owned flavor house in the world. By comparing the flavor analysis of both foods, they found that caviar and white chocolate had major flavor components in common. At that time they stated a hypothesis that different foods will combine well together when they share major flavor components, and foodpairing was born.[3] [4] In 2009, The Flanders Taste foundation organized a gastronomic symposium, The Flemish Primitives, completely dedicated to foodpairing. [5]


Foodpairing starts with an analysis of a food. The aroma compounds are determined with the aid of gas chromatography, which in most cases is coupled with a mass spectrometer (GC-MS). The odorants are also quantified with other techniques. Key odorants can be identified by comparing the concentrations of the odorants with their respective flavor threshold. Key odorants are the compounds that a human will effectively smell. They are defined as every compound that is present in concentrations higher than their specific flavor threshold.

For example, coffee contains 700 different aroma compounds, but there are only a couple of aromas important for the smell of coffee because most of the aromas are present in concentrations that are not perceptible with the nose; they are present in concentrations lower than their flavor threshold.[6]

The key odorants are essential to compose the flavor profile of the given product. The resultant flavor profile is screened against a database of other foods. Products which have flavor components in common with the original ingredient are retained. These products could be combined with the original ingredient. With this information, a foodpairing tree is built.

The essence of foodpairing is the practice of combining different foods that share the same major flavor components. Comparing the flavors of individual ingredients can result in new and unexpected combinations, such as strawberries paired with peas. This combination was adopted by Sang Hoon Degeimbre, chef of L’Air du temps in Belgium.

See also


  1. "Molecular Gastronomy Cooks Up Strange Plate-Fellows". Chemical & Engineering news. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  2. Heston Blumenthal (4 May 2002). "Weird but wonderful | Life and style". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  3. "Flavor pairing engenders strange plate-fellows and scientific controversy". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  4. "Flavor pairing". Khymos. 2007-04-17. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  5. "The Flemish Primitives". The Flemish Primitives. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  6. Imre Blank et al. (1991) "Aroma Impact Compounds of Arabica and Robusta Coffee. Qualitative and Quantitative Investigations",
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