We report a study conducted in a realistic dining environment, in which two groups of diners were served the same three-course meal. The presentation of the starter (centred vs. offset plating), the type of cutlery used for the main course, and the shape and colour of the plate on which that dessert was served were varied.
The results revealed that the weight and type of the cutlery exerted a significant impact on how artistically plated the main course was rated as being, how much the diners liked the food, and how much they would have been willing to pay for it. The change in the shape and colour of the plate also affected the diners’ liking for the dessert.
Taken together, these results show that the diners’ appreciation of the food is affected by the type of the cutlery used to eat (in this case, knife and fork), in terms of liking, aesthetic value, and willingness to pay for the food, adding to a growing body of gastrophysics research highlighting the importance of food-extrinsic factors in modulating the diner’s opinion of the meal that they have been served.