“You eat with your eyes first” A wise soul once said! If you are in the food business, this is the first principle of making your guest happy. Food plating and presentation is vital to satisfying the culinary urges of your customers. They even say that great plating can increase a person’s appetite. As a chef, plating skills are a great measure of your skills and expertise and when done right can win you unlimited accolades. Sadly, though most chefs and caterers do not pay enough attention to this aspect of serving food.
While food presentation is a matter of creativity and there are so many innovative things you can do, there are some important rules and concepts following which food can be presented to the guests. Let us see what should guide caterers and chefs when they go about presenting food to their guests.
Consider the kind of cuisine to be served
Food presentation is directly related to the cuisine you are preparing. Are you going to serve a steak dinner, delicate side dish or appetiser? You must also consider/decide the size of the portions before starting to plate. When plating, maintain the adequate portions of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables so that the meal looks balanced.
Choose the right plate
For a chef, a plate is like a canvas on which food art is drawn. Choose the size carefully keeping in mind the size of your portions and the fact that portions do not look small. The colour of the plate should also highlight the food items on the top. A white plate helps provide a high contrast where the colours in the food items are highlighted well. That is why they are popular as well.
Place the food items at the right places
Think of your plate as a clock from the eyes of a diner. Protein dishes should be between 3 and 9, carbohydrates between 9 and 12, and vegetables between 12 and 3. Always place moist ingredients at the bottom and other foods at the top. If not, the runny food items will scatter all over the plate and ruin the presentation. Don’t overcrowd the plate. Essentially, the protein food should be the focal point which all other food items complement.
Use Sauces to top your dishes
A sauce is a versatile ingredient that can be used in numerous ways to decorate the plate. Experiment with them. However, do not just pour the sauce all over the plate. Use it to create designs on top of the dish or around it. This way, the guests will get a bit of sauce in each mouthful.
Use garnishes to enhance the looks of the plate
The garnishes should always be edible, and they must be related to the dish in some way. They should neither look apart from the dish nor taste different from the other flavours in the food. Never heap a mound of garnishes on one corner of the plate. Instead, disperse them purposefully all around the plate so that they complement the looks of the food plate.
Presentation of food is as important as the preparation of it. It requires as much creativity and innovative skills as cooking food. When both are in the highest order, your guests will sing your praises and leave with fond food memories.