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Advice on plating

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 

For the past several years, I've been working to evolve my cooking and knife skills.  I'm pleased with how everything is going, except for one thing . . . plating.  I always feel my food looks like it's been plopped on a plate and has the organization of a TV dinner.  I believe I can do better.  I would appreciate any words of wisdom, insight, advice, etc. on plating that anyone here has to share. 

post #2 of 53

Why don't you show a few pictures here and let everyone suggest something?

 

dcarch

post #3 of 53

Agreed, very hard to advise on plating with words alone--its a visual thing.

post #4 of 53
Thread Starter 

Okay . . . let me try a slightly different approach since I'm traveling a lot on business and don't have any photographs of my work; so let me offer an example.  I know we have a bunch of people coming on the July 4th extended weekend and at least one meal will be grilled steaks (I make a great marinade), baked potatoes, and probably corn . . . other than throwing these things on a plate is there anything I can do as far as presentation?

post #5 of 53
post #6 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by beastmasterflex View Post
 

Get some of these, because they're freakin awesome.

 

http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-1054949/?affsrcid=Aff0001&CAGPSPN=pla&CAWELAID=120120820000003591&catargetid=120120820000074241&cadevice=c

:lol:

post #7 of 53

@Loomchick you might be interested in the Social Group Creative Concepts and Techniques here at Chef Talk

post #8 of 53
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  I would really hate to put together a "dog" of a meal.

post #9 of 53
Those corn holders are friggin ' awesome!

As for the meal you described, probably not the easiest items to make super eye appealing, especially with a baker and ears if corn.

Anyhow, with an awesome fourth of July BBQ and some righteous sounding steak, the last thing I personally would be worried about is creative plating.

As for some other dishes you might try and get creative with, a great beginner tip for some nice looking dishes are height/depth, neatness, and color contrast if necessary. Also solid color plates. In my opinion just plain ole white look best. Square or circle whichever float your boat. Please no triangle or octagon plates, I think they are obnoxious! So try and build your dishes upward and layer items when possible instead of just placing them around the plate. Try to stay towards the middle of the plate instead of towards the edges or the rim.

A simple example for instance would be a nice veal chop, some haricot verts or asparagus, and a simple mashed potato of sorts. Start with the mashed potatoes in the center of the plate. Next layer a couple asparagus or some haricots on top of that. Then instead of placing the veal chop right on top or off to the side, try and lean the chop nicely on the mashed and veg, with the bone pointing upwards. Height is an eye catcher. Then a simple pan sauce could be made with the drippings and fond of the chop. Add some black currants maybe or some Bing cherries if desired. Or just keep it simple and deglaze with some red wine and stock. Reduce the liquid and shut the heat off. Mount it with a little pad of butter and spoon over the chop and drizzle on the plate if wanted. Then you'd have a pretty simple, pretty looking dish. You've built some height and have some color contrast with the mashed, the green veg, the veal chop, and the deep color from the pan sauce.

I hope this wasn't too confusing as it's taken me forever to type this with one hand on my cell phone at 4am while feeding my 3 month old daughter,haha. I wish I had a picture to make it easier.

Good luck. Have fun with it and experiment. Play around. If you screw up the first couple times, well, screw it. It's still food and I'm sure it will taste great!

Cheers, Torrie.
post #10 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loomchick View Post
 

Okay . . . let me try a slightly different approach since I'm traveling a lot on business and don't have any photographs of my work; so let me offer an example.  I know we have a bunch of people coming on the July 4th extended weekend and at least one meal will be grilled steaks (I make a great marinade), baked potatoes, and probably corn . . . other than throwing these things on a plate is there anything I can do as far as presentation?

 

When it comes to cooking, good presentation makes the food taste better, and there is no sure way to get a huge "WOW!!!" from others.

 

Not claim to know that much about plating, my personal opinion is to study "rules" and "tips", but never follow them, or you will end up only piling food on top of each other, and use the back of the spoon to drag across the sauce. "Painting by numbers" will never make you an artist.

 

I do believe that there is an artist in everyone, you got to develop your own style by listening to your eyes. After a while, you will hear the ingredients telling you where they want to be on a plate.

 

Plating steaks is fun.

 

dcarch

 

 


Edited by dcarch - 6/6/14 at 4:50am
post #11 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarch View Post

When it comes to cooking, good presentation makes the food taste better, and there is no sure way to get a huge "WOW!!!" from others.

Not claim to know that much about plating, my personal opinion is to study "rules" and "tips", but never follow them, or you will end up only piling food on top of each other, and use the back of the spoon to drag across the sauce. "Painting by numbers" will never make you an artist.

I do believe that there is an artist in everyone, you got to develop your own style by listening to your eyes. After a while, you will hear the ingredients telling you where they want to be on a plate.

Plating steaks is fun.

dcarch






Plating for yourself and friends, indeed.
post #12 of 53

If I may....

A backyard cookout is usually a casual affair and you can be excused from plating for your guests (unless it is catered and served seated).

However it is a perfect time to practice on your plated desserts.

After everyone has had time to digest roll out an assorted dessert buffet...pick up some dessert/ice cream sauces and pour into squeeze bottles then make little dots and geometric designs...sprinkle chopped toasted nuts...maybe a dollop of whipped heavy cream flavored with a sweet liqueur or just a simple dusting of 10X/cocoa....check out some books from the library or watch a few you tubes for ideas.

The sweets and a offering of coffees... maybe a dessert wine and/or liqueurs will impress your guests.

 

mimi

 

Don't forget the cheese and fruit tray.

So many chances to make it attractive.

 

m.

 

OMG I ordered some piggy corn handles last week!

 

m.

post #13 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by flipflopgirl View Post

If I may....
A backyard cookout is usually a casual affair and you can be excused from plating for your guests (unless it is catered and served seated).
However it is a perfect time to practice on your plated desserts.
After everyone has had time to digest roll out an assorted dessert buffet...pick up some dessert/ice cream sauces and pour into squeeze bottles then make little dots and geometric designs...sprinkle chopped toasted nuts...maybe a dollop of whipped heavy cream flavored with a sweet liqueur or just a simple dusting of 10X/cocoa....check out some books from the library or watch a few you tubes for ideas.
The sweets and a offering of coffees... maybe a dessert wine and/or liqueurs will impress your guests.

mimi

Don't forget the cheese and fruit tray.
So many chances to make it attractive.

m.

OMG I ordered some piggy corn handles last week!

m.

Well now I just feel like I'm out of the loop. I just have the boring corn holders that look like corn haha.
post #14 of 53
You should use the corn shaped holders for sausage, and the pig ones for corn. So post modern.
post #15 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanMcPherson View Post

You should use the corn shaped holders for sausage, and the pig ones for corn. So post modern.

Nice!

I'll have my corn guys call your pig guys and we will set something up!hahaha
post #16 of 53

You'd better try and try again , one day you will succeed :)  I think, it needs inspiration too.

post #17 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Torrie View Post

Nice!

I'll have my corn guys call your pig guys and we will set something up!hahaha

Looks like we need to seek some alternatives for beef and chicken sausages. biggrin.gif

Thanks so much for the plating ideas . .. But, more than anything, thanks for the humor. Things got way too serious in the scallop searing discussion.
post #18 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Torrie View Post

Plating for yourself and friends, indeed.

Dcarch, again not trying to be "mean" ha, but you don't find these plates, well crowded and disorganized?

I don't know. Like I said I guess for yourself and friends and home cooking competitions they are nice and pretty. wink.gif
post #19 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Torrie View Post


Dcarch, again not trying to be "mean" ha, but you don't find these plates, well crowded and disorganized?

I don't know. Like I said I guess for yourself and friends and home cooking competitions they are nice and pretty. wink.gif

Thanks Chef Torrie.

 

Crowded and disorganized? You bet. 

 

But with a severe case of delusional disorder, I convinced myself that it's poetic chaos, it's conscious disorder,

 

Unlike a trained professional such as yourself, when I have to put food on a platter I never have a plan as to what to do. The resulting cacophony of colors and form comes from my listening to my inner voice.

 

Inner voice, “Grasshopper, a dish is like your new born child with his/hers given DNA and spiritual proclivity. When plating a dish, it’s like parental nurturing of this child; you just cannot impost your preconceived methods against the grain of the child’s innate DNA and inner soul.”

 

I do put a lot of food on a dish, because it’s dinner, not a restaurant tasting menu display.

 

Would love to see some of your work. I am sure I have a lot to learn.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

 

post #20 of 53
Cool stuff. Looks awesome. Your really are right though. I am aweful at plating.
post #21 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loomchick View Post
 

... I know we have a bunch of people coming on the July 4th extended weekend and at least one meal will be grilled steaks (I make a great marinade), baked potatoes, and probably corn . . . other than throwing these things on a plate is there anything I can do as far as presentation?

 

I like to plate food as if there's not all that much effort went into it, kind of a "natural" positioning. Stacks and little towers on the plate are out here in Europe.

 

Good plating starts in the preparation of your food not at the end of your cooking. Think on how you would like to present your food while planning your dish.

Here's an example of basically beef, potatoes and veggie as you are going to cook.

I used different kinds of potatoes and made 2 sizes of balls from all of them with a parisiènne spoon. In fact a truly simple dish but the colorful presentation "makes" the dish. My suggestion on making simple dishes that include beef; always make a stunning sauce to go with it.

And always keep in mind when plating; never style over substance!!! Your food has to taste stunning if you go for a nice presentation of few elements or you will create a very big disappointment. Be very aware of the seasoning and check it as often as you can.

Don't overcrowd your plates but don't go frugal. Using larger plates really helps but again, don't exaggerate, this is a 32 cm plate, more than big enough.

Last tip; work extremely clean!

 

Roast beef, potato medley, mange touts, confit of garlic cloves, Hollandaise with bear garlic 4

 

I posted the recipe here;

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/80441/roast-beef-potato-medley-mange-touts-confit-of-garlic-cloves-hollandaise-with-bear-garlic


Edited by ChrisBelgium - 6/7/14 at 3:08am
post #22 of 53

Creative thinking helps a lot too. Here's how you can turn an element into something really exciting, Loomchick. I read you're thinking of using corn. Here's a dish where corn is used as some kind of a purée, more intended as a thick sauce. This is meant to play with different food structures on a plate. You could use fresh of course, but this is made with canned corn. Simplest way is to  simmer the corn in a little chicken stock and cream until very tender. Blitz and push through a sieve and season well.

Look how nice you can plate it... and, it tastes incredible! See how few elements on this plate? Simplicity works too but...all elements have to be perfect as there's nothing to hide; the slightest mistake will not be forgiven.

 

Quale with sweet corn puree, potato and a port tangerine sauce

post #23 of 53

What ChrisBelgium said, x 2.

 

  • The second picture. There was a thread about negative space.

 

You don't plate food with the intention of creating attractive negative space. The second picture shows great negative space is the end result of good plating.

 

My ultimate tip:

 

Never ever use the flash to take food pictures.

 

dcarch

post #24 of 53

@Loomchick I would agree with @flipflopgirl

If it's a backyard or casual affair, why not a buffet on cool looking plates, platters and bowls?

I have seen some super righteous disposables as well as inexpensive melamine

I've found stuff at the Dollar Store, Walmart, Target and even at Party City

A well decked-out table/buffet can be just as nice as a seated/plated meal, IMHO anyways...

 

<edit> ambiance is a good thing too... little tinkle-y lights, candles, sparklers, tiki torches ...

post #25 of 53

Ok, I don't mean to be a d*ck, but can you please change the title to "advice"

 

Either that or "Please advise on plating." It's making me OCD…. :)

 

Word usage police strikes again!!

 

Also, dcarch : How long does it take to plate your food? Do you have heat lamps?

post #26 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post
 

Ok, I don't mean to be a d*ck, but can you please change the title to "advice"

 

Either that or "Please advise on plating." It's making me OCD…. :)

 

Word usage police strikes again!!

 

Also, dcarch : How long does it take to plate your food? Do you have heat lamps?

Done!

 

BTW, you're not a duck . . . and I imagine you received good grades in school in grammar, etc.

post #27 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBelgium View Post
 

 

I like to plate food as if there's not all that much effort went into it, kind of a "natural" positioning. Stacks and little towers on the plate are out here in Europe.

 

Good plating starts in the preparation of your food not at the end of your cooking. Think on how you would like to present your food while planning your dish.

Here's an example of basically beef, potatoes and veggie as you are going to cook.

I used different kinds of potatoes and made 2 sizes of balls from all of them with a parisiènne spoon. In fact a truly simple dish but the colorful presentation "makes" the dish. My suggestion on making simple dishes that include beef; always make a stunning sauce to go with it.

And always keep in mind when plating; never style over substance!!! Your food has to taste stunning if you go for a nice presentation of few elements or you will create a very big disappointment. Be very aware of the seasoning and check it as often as you can.

Don't overcrowd your plates but don't go frugal. Using larger plates really helps but again, don't exaggerate, this is a 32 cm plate, more than big enough.

Last tip; work extremely clean!

 

Roast beef, potato medley, mange touts, confit of garlic cloves, Hollandaise with bear garlic 4

 

I posted the recipe here;

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/80441/roast-beef-potato-medley-mange-touts-confit-of-garlic-cloves-hollandaise-with-bear-garlic

Excellent advice! I second this sentiment...That's how I think about plating. 

 

Cook fast. Plate slow. Have a vision of the plate before you start cooking. 

Contrasting colors, simplicity and a balanced negative space are essential IMO. 

post #28 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBelgium View Post

I like to plate food as if there's not all that much effort went into it, kind of a "natural" positioning. Stacks and little towers on the plate are out here in Europe.

Good plating starts in the preparation of your food not at the end of your cooking. Think on how you would like to present your food while planning your dish.
Here's an example of basically beef, potatoes and veggie as you are going to cook.
I used different kinds of potatoes and made 2 sizes of balls from all of them with a parisiènne spoon. In fact a truly simple dish but the colorful presentation "makes" the dish. My suggestion on making simple dishes that include beef; always make a stunning sauce to go with it.
And always keep in mind when plating; never style over substance!!! Your food has to taste stunning if you go for a nice presentation of few elements or you will create a very big disappointment. Be very aware of the seasoning and check it as often as you can.
Don't overcrowd your plates but don't go frugal. Using larger plates really helps but again, don't exaggerate, this is a 32 cm plate, more than big enough.
Last tip; work extremely clean!

Roast beef, potato medley, mange touts, confit of garlic cloves, Hollandaise with bear garlic 4


I posted the recipe here;
http://www.cheftalk.com/t/80441/roast-beef-potato-medley-mange-touts-confit-of-garlic-cloves-hollandaise-with-bear-garlic

That garlic hollandaise looks righteous my man
post #29 of 53

 

This is a Sea Bass and Passion Fruit Ceviche I posted in the April Challenge. 

I think the key points about this plate was the plate shape was the opposite of the general shape of the food.

Contrasting colors from the seeds in the passion fruit syrup against the syrup itself. The contrasting colors of the passion fruit jelly against the syrup. The green from the herbs and lime zest. But not only that, but the various shades of yellow and orange travelling around the plate in a circle draws your eyes around the entire plate and adds a kind of "anti-contrast" to the plate.

Food is art. You can play with colors just as well with food as you can a paintbrush. 

post #30 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post
 

-----------------------------

 

Also, dcarch : How long does it take to plate your food? Do you have heat lamps?

 

Typically it does not take long for me to pile food on a plate. Also it takes very little time for the pictures because all my pictures are standard shots, one top and one side. There is no "playing to get the right angles" or get the right lighting. Snap, Snap, eat food.

 

I don't use a heat lamp. I either keep the plates in the oven, or microwave the plate with a wet towel on it or simply put the plate on the stove with a very low fire.

 

dcarch

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