As I’ve owned businesses over the years, I’ve often gone to lunch with good friends and employees of mine. As we would go eat at new and interesting restaurants, we would each record our own assessment of what we thought of the dishes we had. Because of my fairly unique memory problem, this record was very important as I would very shortly forget what I ate and if it was any good.


Enter the Subjective Taste Scale (STS)

After a few years of rating food, I eventually concluded that the record didn’t have much merit if I the numbers couldn’t explain more about how good the food was. A deeper challenge I realized however was that people rank foods very subjectively. Even worse, the same individual might rate the food differently on any given day, mood, or otherwise. Because subjectivity is so very unique to each individual, I decided to create a scale that anyone could use to evaluate a meal. Here it is:

5The top of the subjective taste scale is a ranking of 5. This ranking is reserved for the absolute best dishes or restaurants. These are the best foods or dining experiences that make you want to stand on the table and shout at, Facebook  twitter and text all your friends (all at the same time) to get them to come and try it.

4A 4 is still a great ranking in the STS. At this level, this dish is very good and certainly something you’d eat again on the menu and recommend to others. It just isn’t quite culinary or dining nirvana.

3At a 3, what you just ate was OK. Neither good nor bad, you’d eat it again but would probably chose something different next time. Naturally, any good scale deserves to be bent a bit and so I generally find that most food ranks at a level I call 3.5. It’s slightly better than flat-line.

2When you eat something and your brain skips a beat because your tongue feels disturbed, you’ve reached a ranking of 2. At this level, you are thinking you really don’t want to eat this, but if you’re around company, you aren’t going to go so far as to spit it out.

1The bottom of the subjective taste test, a ranking of 1, is reserved for the most disgusting and vile things that can be considered food. If you’ve eaten this, you may have gagged or even thrown up. The only reason you’d eat this food or dine at this restaurant again was if it was against your will, you were starving and had already eaten everyone on the island, or you decided it was time to end it all.

This scale works really well for me and as stated above, many of the foods I eat at restaurants and even eat at home rank at about a 3.5. After all, eating at a 4 to a 5 every time would eventually leave you as fat as the national deficit or as bored with food as my wife is with math.

One interesting thing to note: while it may be subjective and everyone is different, you CAN use the scale to find someone who shares a similar flavor palette as you do and ask them for their 4’s and 5’s on their list.

Try using the Subjective Taste Scale (STS) and rank the foods you eat and you’ll soon find that you can refine your dining experience to a higher level.