Whether you are a fan of the buffet (self service from long table with lavish displays), family style (self services from platters and bowls at the table), French (food is tossed and served table-side by waiter/chef), Russian (highly personal – food is served table side from platters by waiter/chef), or American service (plated in the kitchen by chef and served at table), the presentation of food will enhance the overall eating experience.
When plating food, the home cook typically places the food with vegetable and starches in the back and main item in the front. Chefs usually stack various items or lean the main item against the vegetable or side item. Your food presentation can be enhance with these easy plating tips.
Plate Selection: There are many sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns to choose from. Chefs prefer white plates that really showcase the food. The plate size should reflect the food’s portion. You don’t want food over crowded or portion too small; the food on the plate should look neat and appetizing.
Use Your Hands: Tongs are a great kitchen tool, but don’t be afraid to use your fingers. It allows you to scoop up food and, gently release vegetable adding, height and volume.
Add Pizzazz: Adding a puree to a plate can be easily done by spooning 2-3 tablespoons of the puree onto the plate. Drag the back of the spoon through the puree to add a slight decorative accent. You can also drizzle sauces or add swirls. Spoon the sauce under the meat instead of on top of it.
Focus on Colors: Unless you’re having an all white party, don’t pair sliced chicken with white sauce, cauliflower, and potatoes. Use color: try blue potatoes, red beets, mixed greens.
Garnish: Never decorate a plate with something that is inedible. Always make sure the garnish is in keeping with the food and its preparation, i.e., a lemon garnish with a broiled or fried fish is appropriate, but it does not belong on a fish in a cream sauce. Adding a few shaves of parmesan cheese, fresh herbs or an edible flower will enhance your dish. The garnish should add interest, extra flavor and a splash of color to your plate.
Final touch to your plate is to wipe any drips and spills with clean rag. The overall aesthetics is just as important as the flavor.