How to Plate Food Like a Chef
There is always something ever so impressive of dishes and meals which have been created lovingly by a skilled professional chef. As such, for many people particularly those people who enjoy the opportunity to cook for dinner guests it can be exciting to be able to learn how to plate food like a chef, as doing so can have a vast improvement on the overall aesthetic appearance of the dish.
When it comes to serving up the highest quality food, it is always important to consider not only the flavor and aromas associated with the dish, but also its aesthetic impact on the diner; as with so many other things, first appearances can be critical to ensuring that the dish is enjoyed as it is intended to be by its recipient, and it is for this reason that care should always be taken when it comes to serving food in such a way which makes it look as if it has been prepared by a professional chef—regardless of the cook’s ability in the kitchen.
Even the most delectable of dishes will be ruined by sloppy or careless presentation. As such, it is almost undeniable that anyone who is serving up food for guests really ought to first learn how to plate food like a chef would do for their diners in a restaurant.
So, do you know how to plate food like a chef? What aspects of plating food like a chef would are important in order to improve the overall aesthetic appeal of the dishes which you produce, and what aspects are less important for that all important first impression? And, critically, how can you achieve this professional standard of finish in your own dishes and meals?
Food Decoration In A Plate: How To Use Food As A Decoration
When it comes to using food decoration in a plate in order to make your dishes seem more appealing, from an aesthetic point of view, to your guests, it is always important to remember to serve your food carefully in order to ensure that the decoration is suitable for the dish in question.
Of course, one of the first ways in which a cook can improve the aesthetic of the meals that they are serving is to choose the right plate. Plates come in a number of different designs and sizes, and it is imperative that you make the right choice in order to ensure that your guests’ meals don’t end up looking overly excessive or too small. Additionally, the right plate will help to make the dish look more appealing by ensuring that the layout and presentation of the food doesn’t get ruined during the dining process.
- Size Of Plate
One of the first and most important aspects to consider when it comes to setting out your dishes well is the side of plate that you use. It is always important to choose the right size of plate for two reasons; for one, using a plate that is not the right size for the dish in question will leave the meal looking either cramped and overfilled on the plate (when using too small a plate), or will otherwise mean that the meal looks small and ungenerous, which will never go down well with dinner guests or diners (for plates that are too large for the dish being served up). Moreover, choosing the right size of plate will help to ensure that the different aspects of the meal are kept separate from one another and don’t get muddled up in a mess because, let’s be honest, no one likes all of their food mushed up into a mess that resembles baby food rather than a dish that is worthy of a fine dining establishment!
- Style Of Plate
When it comes to deciding on the perfect plate on which to serve your dishes, it is always important to consider the style of the plate in question. There are a number of different styles of plates and bowls, and these are each intended for use with a different type of dish; plates can come in a number of shapes, although the most common are square or round, and may also be shallow or deep (and this will vary depending on the dish that they are designed to hold—a soup, for example, will require a far deeper dish than a pizza or meat based dish might).
- Design Of Plate
As a final point of consideration when deciding on the perfect plate for your meal, it is always worthwhile to consider the design and color of the plate. While a simple white plate will usually do the job well, for some dishes, it might be beneficial to use a different color or even a patterned plate or dish.
Modern Food Plating Techniques
The food industry is constantly evolving, with new styles and designs and themes coming and going by the week. Many dishes and layouts which were once popular are now regarded as dated and unoriginal—certainly not the type of modern food plating techniques that a professional modern chef would choose to use for their dishes. As such, it is always important that you try to stay on top of all of the food plating techniques and trends of the modern world so that you will be able to understand how to make the best effect with your dishes that won’t simply be considered to be a poor attempt at looking like you know what you’re doing.
When it comes to food plating, there is nothing worse than using an outdated food plating techniques. As such, you should always strive to ensure that you understand modern food plating techniques so that you might be able to provide dishes which look professional and highly appetizing.
One of the most commonly and frequently used methods of plating techniques in the modern professional cooking industry is that of the ‘natural’ approach to garnishes—in other words, wherein food is sprinkled from a height in order to allow it to find its own perfect resting space. This technique does not allow for a great deal of precision however is often loved in our modern world for its simplicity and style. The slight disorder of natural garnishes adds a little excitement to a dish and shows that it has been hand cooked; too perfect a dish will look as if it has just come straight from a factory line.
Another popular modern technique for food is that of the ‘scaling’ or ‘layering’ technique, wherein food is carefully arranged in layers so that it resembles an immaculately made fir cone in appearance. This style is, again, incredibly simplistic, but is equally eye catching enough to be able to draw attention.
As a slight variation on the standard layering effect, some modern chefs are now choosing to arrange their dishes in the shape of a fan, most often circling around central focus point. This can make for a highly impressive dish, where every aspect of the meal has obviously been carefully considered.
Plating Food Ideas
It can be hard to think of a unique and original way in which to serve your food to your guests that will be both practical and aesthetically appealing. Luckily, there are a number of quick solutions that can make excellent plating food ideas without requiring too much extra time on the part of the cook.
One of the first and most popular ways in which to go about food plating is to use specialist decorating brushes, which will allow you to add delicate and unobtrusive strokes of sauce around the central focus point of the dish; this will serve to enhance the overall presentation and will act as something of a frame for the dish, when done well.
If you’re looking to shape your food into a specific style, you should always try to use a mold; molds are cheap and easy to use but will be of a great benefit when it comes to trying to ensure consistency and recognizable shapes.
In order to achieve the perfect layout, it can be highly beneficial to use precision tongs in order to stack food. Precision tongs can be great for a number of foodstuffs and ingredients, from stacking towers of vegetables in such a way that they are carefully organized on the plate. While it might not seem so important at first glance, even the act of placing meat in the right place can be beneficial; it doesn’t even take the most critical of diners to notice when something isn’t aligned, and trying to serve food without precision tongs can make it harder to get the arrangement right.
When starting to add the garnish to your dishes, always remember to follow the trends of the time. Garnishes ought to complement the dish itself and should not stand as solely a feature piece; there is no point adding a garnish that will only be left after the meal, uneaten, and it can even make your guests feel somewhat uncomfortable if they don’t eat everything with which they are served up.
Food Presentation Tips
For anyone serious about creating the perfect dish for their guests or diners, it is always important to follow a number of food presentation tips. Doing so will help the cook to be able to offer dishes which are both delicious and aesthetically appealing.
One of the most common food presentation tips, of course, is to ensure that the plate is kept clean and tidy. This can be achieved by using precision tongs when placing food down onto a plate in order to ensure that it is put in the right position and a good cook should always ensure that they have wiped around the edge of the plate prior to serving up any food, as this will help to ensure that the guests won’t be eating from grubby or messy plates (which could even put them off of their meals altogether, or at best make their first impressions of the dish lesser).
Other food presentation tips which will help you to ensure that your dishes are of the highest possible quality for your diners include:
- Choose the right plate your plate is effectively your canvas when serving up food, and the wrong type and shape of plate will invariably impact on the overall quality of the dish’ aesthetic appeal.
- Choose a focal point for your dish—when plating up dishes, the main or most enjoyable component of the dish ought to be used as the focus point for the dish. Other ingredients and garnishes should be laid out in such a way as to highlight the focal point of the dish, so that attention is largely drawn to where you want it to be.
- Use height to your advantage many modern dishes will use height in their food in order to make the dish more eye catching and exciting. Stacks can be created from towers of vegetables or as layers, such as a base of rice topped with meat or vegetables.
- Use odd numbers of ingredients odd arrangements of ingredients, such as three prawns or five meatballs, always seem to look better than an even number of ingredients. It is for this reason that any components of a dish ought to be grouped with care in order to make them as visually appealing as possible.
- Use appropriate and well placed garnishes the function of a garnish in a dish is to enhance the appearance and flavor of the dish, which is why the old tradition of adding citrus fruit segments onto the side of the plate at the time of service has been largely abandoned; garnishes should be small and meaningful, and laid out in such a way as to further draw attention to the dish’ focal points.
- Use texture and color to your advantage when it comes to making a well presented dish, you need to always ensure that you use a variety of textures and colors. Failing to do so will give your dish the appearance of being incredibly bland and uninteresting, regardless of the true flavor of the meal that you have created. Vibrancy is everything!
- 10 Top Tips: How to Present Food Like a Professional Chef – Spiros
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