Creating a balanced dish is an art form that requires a master chef's expertise. To achieve the perfect harmony between sweet, savory, and spicy flavors, chefs must understand the nuances of each ingredient and how they interact with one another. Salt is often used to bring out the flavor of a dish, but if it still tastes flat, it may need an extra burst of acidity. A splash of lemon on fish or pickles with vinegar on a sandwich can do the trick.
On the other hand, if a dish is too acidic, adding fat or sugar can help to balance it out. The flavor of a dish is created through combinations of complementary foods, condiments, and cooking techniques. All the senses come into play when we eat, but particularly taste, aroma, and texture. Everyone's ability to distinguish flavors is different; some people are more sensitive than others.
While some chefs have a natural knack for analyzing dishes, most must train their palates to recognize the characteristics of ingredients and learn to combine them in the right proportions for a harmonious result. Jillian Fae Downing, a private event chef and chef educator based in Temecula, California, is an expert in this field. It's no surprise that unseasoned dishes are the most common mistake made by professional chefs on Top Chef. Seasoning is essential for bringing out the best in each ingredient and creating a balanced flavor profile.