Editorials provide a platform to voice controversial opinions, but care must be taken. Written words can be misinterpreted, and powerful constituencies offended. However, what I’m about to say is very daring; a great learning experience can be lost when too much concern is placed on meal cost.

Many people, from chefs to salespeople well-versed in client care, understand the value of a truly mouth-watering dish. Food, along with ambience, service and (most importantly) dinner companions can make or break a restaurant occasion. While it’s rare that money is no object, it is understood that higher quality foods usually carry a higher price tag.

However, I’m writing this article for people like, well, me. A frugal up-bringing, hectic lifestyle, career positions that make it difficult to justify “lavish” meal expenses (R&D and QC, among others, often fall into this group) or higher priorities mean fast food to fast-casual is the fare of choice.

The challenge is that many of us are also charged with helping to develop the best-tasting food possible within a context of cost, nutrition and other parameters. For a writer, the challenge of conveying the aroma, taste and texture of an on-trend appetizer in print is all the more difficult when the product has never been tried. Not dissimilarly, the challenge of formulating a superior new food product is made all the more difficult when truly great foods are rarely eaten.

Last month, during the AACC convention, I found myself at Pesca on the River on San Antonio’s River Walk. The place was more upscale than my usual business haunts, and $13 plus tip purchased a small lunch of “Seared Ahi Tuna Napoleon Salad with black sesame seeds, crispy moo shu wafer, avocado, Asian mixed greens salad and sweet chili mayonnaise.”

How good was good? I barely stopped short of licking the plate. I dragged a companion back to Pesca for dinner. I wanted to return to my career of formulating sauces. I dedicate this editorial to the meal. Tuna encrusted with a textured seasoning blend, a savory green vegetable and a “hot,” perfectly flavored sauce reminded me of the superior sensory quality for which all packaged prepared foods should at least strive.

 Why is this editorial so brave? Well, I am advocating spending more money for gourmet business meals. Those who approve my expense accounts may read this column, for gosh sake!