Chefs labor over their food for countless hours to create a moment of pleasure for their guests. Plate presentation is the final step that showcases their creations. Often taken for granted or left as an afterthought, plate presentation should highlight the quality of the food and preparation techniques while engaging the diner’s senses. Effective plating should be simple enough to execute on a busy night, yet stylish and visually appealing to the guest. Consider the plate with the eye of a photographer to create a composition that brings the various elements of the dish together in harmony. A winning plate presentation is rarely achieved on the first try. Imagination, trial-and-error, and brainstorming in a collaborative fashion often help to achieve successful results. Plate presentations begin with mastering the basics of proper culinary techniques, high-quality food, and plate selections that fit the style of the dish.
ELEMENTARY PLATING TIPS
Before beginning the plating process determine the focal point by visualizing how it will appear or draw out a plate diagram. The focal point should be the highlight of the plate and where the eye is drawn first. Bright or contrasting colors, elevation, and food placement helps to highlight items. Usually, our eyes scan a food plate much like a picture, from the lower left to the upper right. Photographers use this idea when setting up a photo, called the rule-of-thirds, that divides a picture into thirds both horizontally and vertically and uses the intersecting lines as focal points. The alignment of the subject should be somewhere at one of these focal points and usually off-center. This template can also be used when apportioning the quantity of food on the plate, which as a general rule means no more than 2/3 of the plate should be filled with food, while the other 1/3 of the plate is negative or empty space.
Follow this LINK for a much more comprehensive thread on fundamental plating techniques.
And of course a little professional recipe book to get you going!
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