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when do aesthetics become irrelevant

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
spending 2 seconds wiping the edge of a plate is in my opinion, beneficial... arranging baby greens rather than just placing them down, garnishes, positioning etc

but there are some who take the whole "must look nice" to a whole new level... continually re-arranging dishes, replacing, removing and replacing items till it looks "perfect"

in your opinions, how important is this and at what point does it become stupid to keep playing with it.

i think in a high end restaurant, aesthetics is almost as important as taste and smell its one of the big 3.

but in a smaller, mid-low end restaurant it takes a back seat, sometimes to the detriment of the food, sometimes you just wouldnt notice... i mean you dont see your local kebab shop re-arranging your kebab, nor would you want to, his fingers wouldnt be clean would they? its only a kebab shop....
post #2 of 22
at what time does it become stupid when u keep playing with it....when u keep playing with it:beer:
post #3 of 22
Why wouldn't they be clean? Unless there's some point at which sanitation becomes irrelevant that I am unaware of.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #4 of 22

When stacking was a big craze it grossed me out to watch 8 people finger my food. And just to throw firestarter on the last comment, I've seen more people that wear gloves do things they shouldn't with them on.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #5 of 22
I like simple. The simpler the better. That way you don't have to touch it once it hits the plate.

On a nice polished mirror touching the food twice is a no no.
post #6 of 22
I am not really a clean freak type of person. I have no objection with 8 professional cooks/chefs handling my food as long as they are aware of proper sanitation procedure (No handling raw chicken then assembling my plate please).

I really like to see innovative presentations as opposed to the typical tv dinner approach (1/3 of plate has protein, 1/3 starch, 1/3 vegetable), however, taste should always be the key principle.
post #7 of 22
Funny story. This guy I once worked with. Chef told him to go out and do the carving station. He was such a pr!ck anyways so we wanted to get him out of the kitchen. He took the chafer with roasts and everything seemed fine. Then the GM calls the kitchen and tells chef to go out and check on him, chef sends me. This guy is out there, without gloves, carving with one hand and handing the slices over with his bare hands! Then as he got done with one roast, he ate the scraps! THEN, he reached into the chafer with his bare hand and grabs the other roast and the juices start dripping allover! No apron, not towel, his coat is a bloody medium rare mess!

He got a firm talking to and of course, he was outta there in a coupla weeks anyway. You know how you get the feeling when people are going to leave.
post #8 of 22
possibly I wasn't clear, eight people on one plate....
At times I've worn gloves and actually had sweat dripping down....ewwwww....much rather go gloveless.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #9 of 22
I think that plate presentation, at certain levels, is more important to the chef than the guest. I would think that someone who wastes time on making a plate perfect should've just made it perfect the first time, then he wouldn't have had to do it again and again. Wiping plate is, to me, like washing hands. Where's the debate about that one? It should happen in ANY and EVERY restaurant. (maybe emeril should start rather than just sprinkling that sh!t all over his rim HA)
There are some who make plates perfect without effort, they have a relationship with the food, and others that seem to have to work for it and it never really appears perfect. That's one of the many differences between chef and linecook. THat's why the CHEF garnishes before it leaves the kitchen and in some kitchens is the ONLY person to sauce plates. It's, to me, like the final inspection and touches at the same time. If you spend minutes making a plate look perfect on the line at a restaurant, you'll probably get reassigned and someone that can do it perfect with little effort moves in your spot.(my novice opinion)
" Never fry bacon naked!"

" Never fry bacon naked!"

post #10 of 22
That's getting kinda cozy isn't it? ;) What do you people talk about in the huddle?

I believe it, 8 people to stack food? You need at least a coupla them in there to hold the stack steady. What's that game, Xanga?
post #11 of 22
When I was working in fine dining we did spend a great deal of time on plating.

I find that when I'm a guest at a restaurant, the plating really doesn't matter much to me. Taste (and texture) is much more important. The food could be slapped on to the plate, doesn't bother me one bit as long as it's tasty.

I also dislike the idea of garnishes for the sake of it, and especially inedible garnishes. I once got a piece of fish with a huge rosemary branch in it as a garnish, I had an incredible urge to throw it at someone....

Lately I've been spending most of my dining dollars at ethnic restaurants. Tasty food, family-style service, zero pretense, IMO that's what dining is about.
post #12 of 22
Aesthetics are not only always important but are, basicly, unavoidable. Aesthetics are context determined. At a "gastro resto" my expectations are to to see something artful, hopefully exciting. At a greasy spoon, hangover breakfast I want piles of oilly starch and crispy meats. Worlds apart but appealing to their audeniances. Its not an either or.

Mikeb, I totally agree about garnishes. Not only about garnishes that are ediable, call me crazy, shouldn't a garnish have something to do with what you're eating? Having a "splash of green" on a plate just because it could use some green in a colour wheel way of thinking drives me nuts! At school a Chef did a an amazing looking plate (and I'm not knocking this chef, his point was only to demonstrate garnishing concepts) with fried pasta and apple chips adorning a beef tenderloin. It looked ptretty stunning but apples and pasta had nothing to do with the dish. That, to me. is a bad plate. If the visual has nothing to do with taste or the theme of the dish its what I call "chasing the height" and pretty pointless.

post #13 of 22
At a gastro restaurant what I look for is for the plate to communicate to the diner how to eat it. If the food is meant to be eaten in the same bite it's stacked, if it's meant to be eaten separately but with the same sauce you line them up separately, and connect them with a line of sauce. On a cheese plate, I separate the cheeses, and put them next to a condiment that suits them (chutneys, compotes, fruits, gelees, etc...). I really don't think the visual component of food is important, although the way it's arranged on the plate can have an effect on taste, if some things are meant to go with other components...
post #14 of 22
Very well put Mike. It does kind of get back to the old maxim of designers "form follows function." I guess what I meant by aesthetics be unavoidable is that every time you plate something you have made an aesthetic choice. Even if that choice is to throw a pile of hash on a plate or carefully use an eyedropper to apply 13 drops of sauce around the rim, each reflects an aesthetic.

The biggest problem is when the "look" take over and and starts determining what goes on the plate. You're serving food that, you know, will go in people's mouths. You can't eat a magazine cover (unless you're my dog, but thats another story).
post #15 of 22
"chasing the height" I really love that quote, all kinds of visuals come to mind.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #16 of 22

Thanks, feel free to use!

post #17 of 22
Although i do agree on the thing with taste and smell coming first, you do eat with your eyes first as they say, unless your blind of course.

I do however, do not appreciate restaurents that stack things up to high until you topple everything over and its just annoying and stupid.

I do remember when working partime, the chef saying, just stack it high, we want height. Hmmm i thought, what happened to tasting it and making sure it tasted right? Ahh well.
post #18 of 22
Hi Piracer,

this is a little off topic but I've always wondered about "eating first with your eyes." Its true to a point but I have to think even before you've seen your food you first are eating with your imagination. Let's say that you order a dish of braised beef with mixed greens and rice. And, yes, I'm keeping it really generic here for the sake of simplicity. If you order it at a french bistro, or japanese themed place, or a mom-an-pop joint, your expecations are going to be radically differently. Same meat, same veg, same garnish. But I bet your expecations are totally different (in appearence, seasoning, and plating) in each venue.

post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
i suppose your right with every choice of where to put anything is aesthetics

personally i prefer meals that follow one of my old favourites...

12" round plate dipped 3" in by 1/2"
6" round toad in the hole (3 sausages in batter) to one side
handfull of cracked black pepper mashed potato on the other side
peas on the third side... (ok imagine a kind of pie, sliced 3 ways, mash peas and toad)
onion gravy over the top of all three

if everything was as simple (and as nice tasting as that) id be happy...
post #20 of 22
I personally like the asthetics... a little mix of color and/or texture.... but do I want to stand there and fuss with someone's plate (or have someone fuss with mine) until the risotto coagulates??? NO WAY!! If you can set up a simple presentation to make the food attractive- go for it! But if it takes longer to assemble the food than to cook it...... you've gotten anal-retentive. (just my opinion)
Bon Vive' !
Bon Vive' !
post #21 of 22
I like where I work at because I am given a certain extent of creative freedom regarding plating.

We run specials daily, I can plate them however I desire. I love elegant presentations, but I am not going to lean over a plate for 5 minutes carefully stacking things.

What good is a picture perfect presentation if the food has gone cold while you were plating it?
post #22 of 22
Sadly I'm not too great at making up plate presentations off the top of my head, it's one of the skills I need to improve, but if you give me a way to set it up, I'll make it look good.

I don't have that relationship with the food yet I guess.
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