It is hard to ignore the old saying that “you eat your eyes first.” How food looks directly affects our desire to eat it. It doesn’t matter if you are a chef at home or a restaurant, the art of plating a meal requires creativity, strategy, and cleanliness. Your plating style, like any artist, is unique.
These 10 tips will help you plating like a pro.
1. Choose Your Plate: Think of your plate as a canvas and your food as a medium. Your dish’s appearance will be affected by the size, shape, and color of the plate. White is a popular choice because it creates a strong contrast with other colors. This makes your food the focal point and not an afterthought.
2. When plating your dish, choose a focal point. The focal point of most dishes will be the meat, whether it is a perfectly grilled steak, or seared scallops. Focusing on one aspect of the dish will allow other elements, such as the sauce or vegetable, to play support roles.
3. A clock: When placing the three main elements of a dish, protein, starch, and vegetables, many chefs use a clock layout. The clock layout should dictate that the protein should be at 2 o’clock, the starch at 10, and the vegetables at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock respectively. You will have to adjust this layout to suit your individual preferences. However, it is a good way to ensure that you fill your plate with the right amount of food.
4. Consider Color: How you present a dish’s strengths will depend on the colors used. A tower of sauteed kale or green beans can add a splash of color to a monochromatic meal of chicken and potatoes. Bright accent colors can be used to highlight the positive aspects of a meal.
5. Use texture to your advantage: A food’s texture is what draws the eye. This could be the crispy skin of roast chicken or the creamy creme fraiche, or the sprinkle of chopped chives. You can visually stimulate a plate by combining such different textures, which creates a fascinating textural contrast in every bite.
6. Keep it High: Plating is all about height. It helps draw attention to the main point of the dish. It is no surprise that a more attractive plate will be created by fluffing than smashing down food.
7. The Odds Rule: A group of three, five, or seven is naturally more attractive to the eye because there is less balance. This creates visual interest. When plating seafood like scallops or shrimp, and vegetables such as asparagus and pearl onion, consider the Rule of Odds.
8. Cleanliness is important: Wipe away any crumbs or sauce dribbles from your plate. These outliers can distract from the main point of your plate and make it look less polished.
9. Garnish with a Purpose. All garnishes placed on a plate must have a purpose. Garnish with food that isn’t part of a recipe. A rosemary-rubbed tenderloin can be garnished with fresh rosemary instead of sprigs de parsley. These, while delicious, don’t add as much cohesiveness to the dish.
10. Accept the Unattractive: Although many foods can be visually stimulating, there will always be some that are not. Highlight the textures and colors of each ingredient on your plate to make the most of what you do have. To distract from the monotony of less appealing foods, use a relevant and edible garnish.