Jordi Roca, academician of the RAED, promotes an initiative to fight against taste disorders

Jordi Roca, pastry chef at Celler de Can Roca and honorary academician of the Royal European Academy of Doctors-Barcelona 1914 (RAED), has presented the project “El sentido del cacao” (The sense of cocoa) in collaboration with the financial institution BBVA. It’is an initiative promoted with the aim of providing visibility to taste disorders, a set of pathologies that affect the perception of the sense of taste and that suffers up to 17% of the population. The project has been developed from a pioneering research based on neuroscience and sensory management that has been supported, among other institutions, by the San Carlos Clinical Hospital of Madrid or the Oncology Institute of Barcelona.

“El sentido del cacao” is part of a pioneering research process based on key aspects of neuroscience and sensory management carried out for the first time in history. “The project is born from a very clear starting hypothesis: is it possible to recover the sensation of taste in people with alterations through the stimulation of the other senses and the associated memories?” We immediately understood that the only way to address this challenge was through individualization: creating personalized experiences”, explained Jesús Porta-Etessam, head of the Neurology Section of the San Carlos Clinical Hospital, during the presentation ceremony.

El sentido del cacao - Jordi Roca“To awake the taste, we needed a global and evocative element that could be associated with personal experiences, but at the same time, it was essential to choose a malleable product, with many nuances and that could be individualized and enjoyed with the rest of the senses”, said Jordi Roca. “This project has allowed us to develop the first non-invasive sensory stimulation approach based on memory to recover a lost sense -added Porta-Etessam-. How did we do it? Tracing an experiential suit tailored to each participant. Different patients with taste disorders determine their sensory and behavioral profiles, their systems of understanding and consumption of cocoa or even memory and history with the chocolate of each of them”.

Jordi RocaFrom this qualitative process, Jordi Roca and his team at El Celler created, from cocoa, desserts inspired by the memories of each participant. In parallel, we proceeded to design a multisensory and immersive space, adaptable to the personal history of each individual. “We created an ideal experiential ecosystem where, when tasting each dessert, we managed to awake neuronal connections that helped us to revive the memory of cocoa in each person”, concluded the academician of the RAED.

For the materialization of this project, BBVA and Jordi Roca have collaborated with a multidisciplinary group of Spanish scientists with diverse areas of specialization formed -in addition to Porta-Etessam- by Josep de Haro, clinical head of the Otorhinolaryngology Service in Badalona Welfare Services; Laura López-Mascaraque, researcher at the Ramón y Cajal Institute of the Higher Council for Scientific Researchof Spain, and Jordina Casademunt, collaborator of the Oncology Institute of Barcelona.

Website of the project