The three-day event, which occurs every two years, took place this week in Barcelona. It brought chefs together from all over the world to present innovative dishes along different themes to help attending flavourists determine future trends and product development. "Ultimately we are interested in what consumers will want to buy - and this is strongly influenced by the evolving world of international gastronomy," said Mauricio Graber, president of the flavours division. Buzz Baughard, vice president of global food service, said new flavours and combinations often start in fine dining, and make their way through casual dining to fast food and eventually to packaged goods in a process that takes three to five years. He said: "We are trying to shorten the gap between food made for fine dining and ingredients in packaged goods." Analysing the chefs' creations Lee Hiang Phoon, a Givaudan flavourist, said: "Cooking and flavour creation are the same. It has been inspirational for us to bring chefs together from all over the world and see their creativity. It is great to see the beauty in the simplicity of the recipes, and yet the complexity that develops in the mouth." While flavourists sought inspiration, Givaudan's scientists were present to examine the flavours present in the chefs' creations. The company has developed a device called a 'headspace', which allows for analysis of the aroma and flavour molecules, made possible as flavour largely comes from a food's aroma. This therefore enables the flavour division to investigate what is present and missing from the dishes, to help in flavour development. According to Givaudan, an integral part of its R&D for flavours is culinary insight and consumer validation to both inspire development and apply taste to applications to make them more real and accessible. As well as this event, the company has its own in-house chefs to work on innovation and the application of new flavours. Taste essentials The culinary event included a day focused on recipes involving beef - an ingredient the company considers staple and globally popular. The firm has developed a Taste Essentials approach, focusing on seven main areas - chicken, beef, citrus, vanilla, chocolate, dairy and coffee. These are products the company has identified as consumed all over the world and so ones it hopes to be dominant in. The first chef's council, which took place in 2006, had a similar day dedicated to chicken, which the company had chosen to focus on for a two-year period, as well as citrus and vanilla. R&D at Givaudan The company invests 10 per cent of its overall sales into R&D - that is, around €88.8m on 2007's figures - although it spends more on research for fragrances than for food. Givaudan claims to have 40 per cent of the world's flavourists working for it. On top of its Taste Essentials, Givaudan's R&D is broken down into five main categories. These are taste, delivery systems, fermentation, tools and ingredients. Givaudan has research agreements with three universities, and one with Redpoint Bio. It entered into an alliance with the latter for the development and commercialisation of compounds that enhance sweetness or savoury sensation and compounds that block or desensitise bitter taste for use in the food and beverage industry. The agreement responds to the growing need for tastier foods that are lower in salt, fat and sugar. It saw the company pay an upfront technology fee of $1.3m (€840,000) to Redpoint and then to provide research funding of up to $11.6m (€7.5m), according to Repoint. Laura Crowley's attendance at Givaudan's Chefs' Council was funded by Givaudan.