Does Lighting Make a Dish Tastier?

Light contributes to creating the ambience in a venue, and it is affected by the surrounding furnishings, or in other words, the arrangement of the interior architecture. Special attention needs to be dedicated to the atmosphere in eating-places.

Light mainly affects a setting in three ways: it enhances the furnishing items, it determines the visual distribution of space and it illuminates individual tables. This last factor needs further explanation. The light concentrated on each table creates “islands of intimacy”; in fact, thanks to the reduced illumination of the gaps between one table and the next, the diners’ sense of isolation from neighbouring tables increases.

If on the other hand the lighting is uniform, this sense of isolation does not exist; this effect is pursued in restaurants wishing to highlight the diners’ sense of belonging to a group or the collective enjoyment of meals as canteens, cafeterias, fast food outlets, reception halls. The light over the table should mainly fulfil the need to enhance the colours of the food and allow the diners to see one another without any overly dramatic effects on their faces (due for example to an excessively vertical light which casts unpleasant shadows over their faces).

Lighting bars does not differ greatly from what we have seen for restaurants, except for the different architecture and furnishings that distinguish this type of setting, requiring specific light fittings. For example, if one wishes to obtain the uniform lighting of the wall opposite the customers, wall washer light fittings would be ideal.

The most frequent lighting mistakes are:

− The use of the wrong fluorescent light (neon lamps) which negatively alters the colours in the setting;

− Poor illumination levels: too low (boring setting) or too high (glare and visual fatigue);

The light is too uniform, creating a sense of monotony;

− The use of “spotlights” very close to diners, who are irritated by the heat emitted by the light fittings;

− A lighting scheme that does not take into account the architectural characteristics of the setting;

− The use of unsuitable light fittings that were designed for a different setting (shops, offices);

− Blinding lights.