Harvard Finds Cooks Serve Better Food When They Can See Diners

An Experiment Found That Cooks Are Inspired By Watching Customers

— -- Looking for the most flavorful and fastidious dining-out experience? Try to make eye contact with your chef before placing your order.

A Harvard research project recently found that cooks who were able to observe their guests dished out markedly better meals than when customers remained anonymous to them.

The findings were culled after Harvard Business School doctoral student Tami Kim and Chia-Jung Tsay, an assistant professor at University College London, set up four successive experiments in a working cafeteria over a two-week period.

"In the first, diners and cooks couldn’t view one another; in the second, the diners could see the cooks; in the third, the cooks could see the diners; and in the fourth, both the diners and the cooks were visible to one another," stated the research. Following each meal, diners could rate their experience.

Due to the noted limitations of the project, the researchers acknowledged that much more and deeper study is necessary.

Kim and Tsay found that customer satisfaction increased by 10 percent when the cook could see the guests in the dining area.

"But even more striking, when customers and cooks both could see one another, satisfaction went up 17.3 percent, and service was 13.2 percent faster,' stated the research. "Transparency between customers and providers seems to really improve service."

Kim and Tsay attributed the improved experience to chefs feeling more motivated and inspired by seeing patrons. Still, not all restaurants should begin breaking down kitchen walls just yet.