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Steak and Potatoes

I'm not really sure where i am going with this one...I just really like this picture. Simple in it's elegance, yet complex in it's execution.

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 a photographer's eye 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. Numerous plate traditional, contemporary, and international concepts and templates are presented here that have

Presenting a plate as pictured above takes great deal of skill and knowledge. Yet, it is possible for an amateur cook to present food well, even if they haven't gone through a rigorous apprenticeship and schooling.

 Elements of the Plate

A plate should engage the senses and draw the diner into it much as a painting will draw in the observer. The dish should be carefully planned to balance tastes, textures, colors, and cooking methods. Intertwine the components to bring a sense of composition and harmony. The process begins by incorporating the best and freshest ingredients, executing accurate knife cuts, and using precise cooking techniques that highlight the food's quality and the chef's talents. The dish is pulled together with sauces and other complementary ingredients. The final touch is the judicious use of garnishes. Each element should be there for a reason, adding flavor, texture, and color dimensions that are in harmony with the finished plate.  

Main Item

The main item is usually the focal point of the plate. On a savory dish, this is often a protein such as meat, fish, or poultry that requires butchering skills, portion control, and cooking techniques of the highest caliber to achieve the desired results essential to the plate presentation's success. Vegetarian dishes frequently highlight pasta, risotto, grains, and legumes, which are delicate items that, once prepared and plated, must be served immediately to retain their fresh appeal. Appetizers, including soups, salads, charcuterie, or small shared plates, should be plated with care and precision for maximum visual impact. Fresh, crisp, colorful salad greens with attractive garnishes, soups presented with the proper consistency and adornments, and charcuterie precisely prepared and sliced are important for the opening of the meal. Desserts, as the closing chapter of the dining experience, should include fresh, rich, and sweet flavors with textural variety, including cookies, crusts, and garnishes, bright color variance from the use of fruits, herbs, and sauces, and visual appeal. Proper execution requires the crisp textures of pastry, the smooth and creamy consistency of gelato or mousse, and colorful garnishes of herbs. For appetizers and desserts that serve as bookends of a meal, there may be one single focal point or several, in which case creative plating will achieve the best results.

Supporting Elements

Vegetables and fruits often constitute the supporting elements of a dish. Whereas proteins tend to be various shades of brown, beige, and white, fruits and vegetables add color and provide a high visual impact. Precise cuts help to create an elegant presentation. Carefully controlled cooking techniques will yield vibrant colors and accents. Textures achieved through a variety of cooking techniques include starches, grains, and legumes prepared as smooth purees, al dente pasta, and creamy risottos or as crisp textured fries, chips, and croquettes. Supporting components provide height in the form of mounded purees, pasta, and grains to support the main item. They contribute to the overall appearance by providing variety in taste, color, shapes, and textures.


Sauces tie the elements of the dish together, providing color and luster. They should be of the correct color, consistency, and texture. Sauce variations include compotes, chutneys, salsas, and traditional brown, white, and butter sauces. Cold sauces include vinaigrette, mayonnaise emulsions, purees, pesto, and coulis. Sauces may be served under, over, or alongside the item and should have a light consistency yet flavorful punch. The combination of 2 sauces on a plate, for example, a chocolate sauce paired with a raspberry coulis, adds various colors.


Garnishes provide color and a finishing touch to the dish. Choose items that are appropriate to the dish and that echo some of the ingredients. They should be functional, not merely a sprig of rosemary or a wedge of lemon, but incorporated as part of the plate concept. Examples of functional garnishes are a tuile cookie for a gelato dessert, a tempura-fried Meyer lemon slice to complement a sautéed fillet of fish, or delicate micro-greens to garnish a salad. As the final touch of the plate presentation, garnishes must be precisely prepped to maximize their impact and give the plate the final visual pop.

There is a lot more to consider, but I think that's enough for today! If you want the Full Monty, consider joining one of our Professional Online Culinary Programs Today!

One last little gift!

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Cheers, and have a great weekend!

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