If you’ve surfed the social media for any length of time, you’ve probably come across the term ‘food porn’. It’s taken the Internet by storm, and it’s nearly impossible to open your Instagram or Facebook and not come across a picture of artfully plated food accompanied by this hashtag.
Food plating and presentation play an important role in enhancing a person’s culinary experience. We eat with our eyes first and creative presentation of food enhances its appeal. It also allows the chef to display his creativity alongside his culinary excellence.
Now, while there aren’t any hard and fast rules of plating, there are, however, several concepts worth adhering to if you are looking to add finesse to your dishes.
Pick the Right Plate
The next step is to make sure that your plate is big enough to let your food be the star but not so big that the servings look small. Choose a color that complements your dish. Usually, white plates are a big hit as they highlight the dish by creating a contrast between your colorful dish and the neutral background.
Pro tip: Consider using the rule of thirds to highlight your plate’s focal point. When applied to cooking, the rule prescribes placing the star of your dish to either the left or the right side of the plate, instead of the center.
Placing your Ingredients
The way you layer your ingredients is an important aspect of the presentation. Chefs usually plate the moist or runny ingredients as the base of any dish. As these elements of the dish tend to move during delivery, foods like sliced meats or vegetables are placed atop them to anchor the components.
It’s All in the Details
One of the best-kept secrets to the art of beautiful plating is paying attention to the details. One way to catch a guest’s attention is to play with color and contrast. Try pairing your ingredients with complementary colors. For instance, adding green veggies or brightly colored fruits as accent points will enhance your dish’s visual appeal.
Another way to catch the eye is to create height on your plate. Creating a tall plate can go a long way towards enhancing visual appeal. But it is equally necessary to balance out the taller ingredients by laying flat items against them.
Use texture to enhance your dish. Consider creating texture combinations like contrasting a smooth puree with few crunchy elements or topping a steak with crumbled blue cheese. Such texture combinations are classic in high-end cuisine.
Design with the Sauces
Yes, creativity is always welcome especially when it comes to plating. But it’s advised not to go overboard when it comes to sauces. Instead of carelessly pouring the delicious dressing or sauces all over the dish, think accent dots on one side of your plate or a light drizzle over the main ingredient. The sloppy sloshing of sauce is only going to drown out all the appeal of your carefully prepared dish.
Garnishes are supposed to add to the appeal as well as the taste of the dish. Smart garnishes are the ones complementing the dish and should always be edible. Because they are there to enhance and compliment the flavors of your dish, not distract from it.
Garnishes are supposed to be placed purposefully instead of placing it in a heap in one corner of the plate. So disperse them thoughtfully to add color or texture. And like I said, avoid using unappetizing garnishes like raw herbs, large chunks of citrus, and anything with a strong odor.
Plating is an art, one that you perfect with time and loads of practice. But it’s not rocket science and if you keep some of the basics in mind, you’ll do just fine. And then, your friends and family are going to sing praises about the quality and presentation of your food. Best of luck!
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