I'm at the two month mark in the internship. One of the things that I realized recently is the importance of side-by-side tastings.
When developing a recipe, critiques are the obvious method used in evaluating the finished product. You look at texture, taste, and appearance, using as many senses as possible. However, our minds can never fully retain the sensations that we experience when we taste food, so tasting two similar recipes at different times aren't very effective. It's hard to remember how something tasted the last time around, and thus it's hard to evaluate the new recipe fairly.
Enter in side-by-side tastings. If I was developing a recipe for, let's say, garlic bread, here is how I would do it: I would make three versions of garlic bread, then serve them side-by-side at the tasting. The purpose of this is so that tasters can clearly see differences, both visually and taste-wise. They can go back and forth between the samples to detect subtle differences. Maybe the garlic is stronger in one than in the other. Maybe there is too much butter in one. In any case, side-by-side tastings allow for a level playing field. It's important when developing a recipe that you do them, because it is difficult to capture the characteristics of a recipe and remember them fully to do a fair comparison with the next recipe.
It's such a simple concept, yet one that I've really come to appreciate. Unfortunately, this method is also time and labor intensive, as you have to coordinate things to be at the same temperature or finished at the same time. It is definitely much harder to do at home than in a test kitchen, where resources and equipment are more abundant. But if you want to do a great evaluation that removes some of the liabilities that human memory can provide, give it a whirl- you'd be amazed at how much more effective your critiques can be!