Two thirds of Britons are baffled by restaurant dessert menus. Is there an opportunity for innovation?

This week, the Daily Mail published an article based on a recent survey conducted by a dessert company called Pots & Co. The findings of the survey were that two thirds of Britons admit they are baffled by a restaurant dessert menu and do not understand words like ‘ganache’. From these findings, can we infer there is a need for better education, so guests and diners understand the menus better? Is there an opportunity for innovation?

One of the key takeaways from the findings is the importance of culinary education, not just for industry professionals but for the guests themselves. The study suggests that a lack of understanding of culinary terms contributes significantly to the confusion experienced by customers. A staggering two in three do not understand what mascarpone is, and three quarters are clueless about coulis, and not to mention that eight in ten would give up on ordering a pudding if they see it described as a posset. Naturally, with survey findings like these, as much as they demonstrate a gap in education and understanding, also comes a great opportunity for the industry. The opportunity lies within the industry to embark on educational initiatives aimed at demystifying the language of menus. This could include the incorporation of glossaries, accessible explanations, or even interactive experiences that engage diners in the world of desserts. By investing in customer education, can the industry empower diners to make informed choices and foster a deeper appreciation for the culinary artistry behind each dish?

Additionally, the findings underscore the potential for miscommunication between chefs and guests. The industry, with its rich tapestry of culinary creativity, may mistakeably alienate guests with its use of specialised language. This misalignment in communication not only impacts customer satisfaction but can also hinder the industry’s ability to showcase the variation they offer effectively, so the question is whether we are we missing an opportunity? Or should restaurants reassess their communication strategies, ensuring that menus strike a balance between celebrating culinary expertise and providing an accessible, inclusive experience for all diners? This study only investigated dessert menu wording, so naturally there may also be a disconnect and one can ask whether other parts of the menu contain specialised language that also causes confusion.

In addressing this challenge, technology can serve as a valuable ally. Augmented reality (AR) or smartphone applications are a great way to provide visual and interactive explanations of menu items. This tech-driven approach not only enhances the experience but also aligns with the broader industry trend of embracing technology to meet evolving consumer expectations. Is there an opportunity for the sector through leveraging innovative solutions, to bridge the communication gap and create a more engaging dining environment?

Ultimately, the learnings from this study suggest that there is a real opportunity for the hospitality industry to prioritise effective communication and education around menus. By fostering a culture of transparency and inclusivity, restaurants can enhance customer satisfaction, drive repeat business, and elevate the overall dining experience.

The fundamental question is how can we shift an ongoing disconnection into a meaningful connection?

Written by Izzy McHattie, EP Business in Hospitality

Daily Mail (2023). Two-thirds of Brits have no idea what ‘ganache’ and ‘mascarpone’ mean. [online] Mail Online. Available at: [Accessed 13 Nov. 2023].