The aim of the research reported here was to analyse palatability. In the first part of the study, renowned chefs in the netherlands were interviewed about their most successful dishes to search for ‘common denominators’. In total 18 chefs were interviewed and 63 dishes were analysed. Six product characteristics were found that were present in at least 80% of the described dishes: (i) name and presentation fit the expectation; (ii) appetizing smell that fits the food; (iii) good balance of flavour components in relation to the food; (iv) presence of umami, also called the fifth basic taste; (v) in mouthfeel a mix of hard and soft textures; and (vi) high flavour richness. It was hypothesized that palatability is determined by the presence of each of these culinary success factors (csfs). In a second study, a michelin-star chef was asked to develop three series of dishes each with a specified main ingredient. Every series consisted of one dish based on the csfs and two variants, in which systematically one of the csfs was left out, under the condition that the dish was still restaurant-worthy. In a tasting these nine dishes were served to a group of 26 experienced restaurant guests. In the tasting, the dishes in which most csfs were united were preferred to the variants. It is concluded that the formulated csfs can help chefs in the development of new dishes and improvement of existing ones.