7 Tips for Artfully Plating Food
Pleasing palates and eyes, one dish at a time.
For better or worse, chances are that you’re probably already familiar with the buzz phrase “food porn.” It’s nearly impossible to open your Instagram feed and come across a photo of plated food without finding those two words positioned underneath, preceded by a hashtag. For those of you who are unfamiliar, food porn simply refers to a visual presentation of food that is enticing, extravagant, and perhaps even provocative. In other words, it refers to food that’s well-presented. This is by no means a new development in gastronomy. Chefs and home cooks have been adding a final touch of finesse to their dishes for centuries—and so can you. If you’d like for your home culinary creations to impress the eyes, as well as the palate, check out the following tips on plating and presentation.
Do Your Homework
It never hurts to have a wide array of cookbooks and cooking reference books. “Food Presentation Secrets: Styling Techniques of Professionals” by Cara Hobday provides a comprehensive overview of plating techniques with easy-to-follow instructions, as well as over 100 recipes to get you started on your food plating journey.
Buy it here.
Pick the Perfect Plates
The only advice we can offer is to make sure that you select tableware that is oven-safe. Before serving hot food, place your tableware in the oven, at the lowest setting, for approximately 15 – 20 minutes prior to serving. Rinse with hot water and dry thoroughly before serving. This will help prevent your food from going cold quickly.
When it comes down to choosing specific tableware, go with your instinct and choose a set that appeals to your sense of design. Personally, we’re pretty fond of this white linen-colored dinnerware set that was designed in conjunction by Food & Wine Magazine and Gorham, one of America’s most reputable purveyors of sterling and silverplate.
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Think about the various ingredients you’ll be using and what kind of contrast in color they’ll ultimately bring to your dish. You want variety. Think of your plate as your canvas and the ingredients as the colors with which you’ll paint your masterpiece.
Vary Texture and Shape
Not only is contrast in terms of color important, but also in terms of texture and shape. For example, if you’re making a dish with radishes, offset the crunch with a vegetable that’s gentler to the bite, like edamame or sweet peas. Furthermore, utilize different culinary cuts when preparing your ingredients. Think of this as the geometric side of plating. Don’t just settle for squares—incorporate circles, rectangles, half-crescents, and so forth! One instrumental kitchen tool in achieving this task is a high-quality mandolin. If you don’t have one yet at home, look no further than the following one from Cuisinart, which features 4 interchangeable blades and 5 cutting options. You’ll want this by your side for all of your plating endeavors.
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Think in Threes
Many chefs and cooks stick to three basic food groups when plating: starch, protein, and vegetables. It’s also common practice to think of the plate like a clock and to position certain food groups at certain times of the day. For example, proteins are often placed near the 2 o’clock mark. For the purposes of home cooking, it’s not necessary to stick to the clock model; however, adhering to the three food group rule helps to keep your dish’s appearance organized and clean.
Work Your Way Up
Plating food in one, even layer will leave your dishes looking bland. Thoughtfully arrange ingredients upwardly to lend your creation an air of topography. This is much more visually appealing for both you and your guests. This may require a bit of dexterity and the right tools at times. To assist you in curating the elements of your plate, be sure to get your hands on the professional plating kit from Mercer Culinary. The basic, yet helpful collection of tweezers and plating spoons will allow you to craft your creations with precision.
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Garnish Simply, Garnish Well
Fresh herbs make a brilliant final touch to most dishes, both in terms of flavor and added color. If you’re able to grow them fresh at home, it’s worth the effort. However, not everyone has garden space or a green thumb to do so. Thankfully, you can buy fresh herbs from your market and store them for up to 2 weeks without having to worry about them wilting. How? With the Breathable Fresh Herb Keeper and Herb Storage Container from NOVART. It fits conveniently in most refrigerators and will save you the hassle from having to abandon a cooking project the next time you realize you’re out of something like chervil or thyme.
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Published on April 5, 2016