Food Fragrances: adding aroma to your cooking

Food Fragrances: adding aroma to your cooking

by Tom Riby 07 December 2016

Tom Riby sits down with Antonella Bondi to learn more about her simple-to-use, food-flavoured sprays that add entirely natural scents to dishes and are becoming an invaluable tool for the world’s top chefs.

View more from this series:

Tom worked as the producer for Great Italian Chefs.

Tom worked as the producer for Great Italian Chefs.

Scientists believe around eighty percent of our sense of taste is in our noses. It’s the smell of the anchovies that makes Spaghetti alla puttanesca so satisfying and the aroma of melted chocolate that makes a fondant pudding so tasty. Our taste buds and nose work in tandem whenever we eat, which is why the smell of something cooking can make our mouths water.

Chefs tend to focus on how a dish tastes and looks, but only recently have they become more concerned with how it smells, too. And it’s people like Antonella Bondi with her range of Food Fragrances that’s making this possible.

Bottled like perfume, each Food Fragrance is a combination of essential food oils mixed with either alcohol or grapeseed oil, making them perfectly edible and full of fresh, vibrant aromas. Flavours include various citrus fruits, spices, chocolate, flowers and even trees, all of which are designed to be sprayed over plates of food just before serving.

Antonella started experimenting with food aromas after suffering a brain ischemia
By combining essential oils with oil or alcohol, she has created something that can be sprayed over dishes whilst remaining edible

‘The idea for Food Fragrances came from my own personal experience,’ says Antonella. ‘A medical condition left me unable to walk and I only found the strength to learn again because of my determination to smell the scents of my childhood again, like the vegetable garden, lime trees and jasmine; everything that was there when I was full of energy. I began to realise that the use of fragrances in food could revive that unmistakable smell of things like freshly picked fruit.’

Soon after Antonella began bottling and selling her sprayable scents some of Italy’s top chefs were using them in their cooking. ‘The experience at Osteria Francescana was amazing,’ she says. ‘I prepared a fragrance of citrus fruits that was specially tailored for the dish that Massimo Bottura served to journalists from all over the world at an event for Maserati. The dish – called Riso Levante – is still on the menu to this day. There is also a John Dory dish called Pesce San Pietro served at Heinz Beck’s restaurant La Pergola, where my mandarin fragrance is sprayed over a hot stone. This instantly gives off a heady scent that works so well with the fish.’

Food Fragrances
The current range of Food Fragrances includes citrus fruits, herbs, flowers and even tree scents
Antonella also creates bespoke scents for chefs like Massimo Bottura

It’s not just chefs that are using Food Fragrances to augment their creations, either. ‘Using the fragrances in different drinks and cocktails is something that many prestigious bartenders want to do, allowing people to better experience the research that goes into matching or contrasting flavours,’ says Antonella.

As with any new tricks professional chefs like to use in their restaurants, home cooks are eager to start implementing the same at home. ‘A few sprays over the top of something simple like a plate of spaghetti with black pepper and tomato can be made all the more satisfying thanks to the aroma of basil,’ explains Antonella. ‘Or try spraying bergamot over the top of a gin and tonic for a much more powerful, floral aperitif.’ As we begin to understand how and why food tastes so good, paying attention to things like the environment right down to how heavy the cutlery is, being able to experiment with scents and aromas means passionate cooks can start playing around with a whole new dimension of their food.

For more information about Food Fragrances, visit Antonella's website here.