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On the plate presentation

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I hope this isn't a redundant thread, but I wasn't able to find this topic directly addressed in another place.

 

I'm trying to learn more about plating/food styling/presentation, whatever you want to call it. Everytime I'm on the line at a new place the plating seems innovative, well-balanced, thoughtful, etc, but because it's new to me, I'd assume that would be the case. I'd like to improve my plating "eye" so I thought I'd ask about the subject. Do you go by instinct, or are you making a list of components? Do you consider color and shape or should the food do its own thing? What kind of plates feel interesting or ridiculous? Do you have any books or sites that taught you plating?

 

Feel free to share pictures and personal stories - like I said, this is a thread for people to learn.

post #2 of 18

There are several schools of thought about plating. One is simple foods on fancy plates, fancy foods on simple plates. Which is to say that when the food is supposed to be very visually interesting, you don't want to distract from it by using a plate with a colorful, complicated design. 

A look through the internet will provide you with plenty of examples of what modern plating is like. 

     What it will look like on the plate can be taken in to account when making the dish but not for every dish. A stew has limited options for plating while a salad of fresh vegetables and greens could be prepared in a variety of ways to enhance presentation. 

      One of my pet peeves lately is when the sauce is two or three tiny dots, barely enough to dirty the fork with let alone enhance the main item.

     For inspiration I visit the websites of various restaurants and study the photos they always have to showcase what they do. I won't be making the same dish but I find many of the plating ideas transfer well.  

post #3 of 18

take photos if you need to memory jog..

else,

go to an art gallery ! the "rules" of composition were set down hundreds of years ago, check it out !

post #4 of 18

This is a fun reference to look through for plating.  Working the Plate

 

http://www.amazon.com/Working-Plate-The-Food-Presentation/dp/047147939X

post #5 of 18

Plating, at least on my dessert end seems to be cyclical. Well maybe that's not the right word, maybe faddish. I do know that most everything on my side has gone to the pairing of flavors which leaves color and composition is secondary. Like chefwriter mentioned, the little dots of color have left for swipes and brushes an amount that you can actually pare with another ingredient. It is very important to pair flavors with quantities. If you have three flavors that you have paired you should have enough of each ingredient to combine all of them in every portion. Plates have kind of stayed geometric and blank to give you a canvas. Or sometimes you go right on the table if the finish to a meal calls for something playful. I really like playful. You can hide very unique items things in very common vessels.

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post #6 of 18

Kind of a matter of opinion and trend. I think it becomes natural with practice and being constantly exposed to beautiful dishes via cookbooks and the internet. Lots of good articles on this website on the subject: theartofplating.com

post #7 of 18

I learned by doing but I have asked people who I think are very good at this. I have been told to think about negative space, balance, flow, variation in height and color. However, the best advice I have ever gotten that I use as inspiration in my plating is that the focus on the plate should always be on the food. the flavors and textures of the dish should be considered first. Basically don't let your ego and desire to have a pretty plate get in your way of creating a perfectly seasoned and cooked dish.

If I remember correctly in April Bloomfield's book she states that food is beautiful and food that is cooked perfectly looks beautiful and should not need much done to it. I really like her style of cooking and food presentation which is why I choose to reference her.

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenvhayden View Post

I learned by doing but I have asked people who I think are very good at this. I have been told to think about negative space, balance, flow, variation in height and color. However, the best advice I have ever gotten that I use as inspiration in my plating is that the focus on the plate should always be on the food. the flavors and textures of the dish should be considered first. Basically don't let your ego and desire to have a pretty plate get in your way of creating a perfectly seasoned and cooked dish.
If I remember correctly in April Bloomfield's book she states that food is beautiful and food that is cooked perfectly looks beautiful and should not need much done to it. I really like her style of cooking and food presentation which is why I choose to reference her.

She once told me I needed to make her here ceasar look like kryptonite, and then told me I'd made a salad so nice it made her "wet her knickers" no joke.
post #9 of 18

On the other side of this issue is the point of the customer who:

 

*doesn't always care for food that touches other food on the plate

*or wants their sides on different plates so that the sauce that finishes the protein doesn't mix with the other stuff on the plate

*or the guy who looks at the plate and says..."How do I eat this?"

post #10 of 18
I struggle with plating style as well. The one piece of advice I can throw out there is don't over think it. I have found that sketching it out on paper sometimes helps move the process along too. I have always found that sketching it out prevents me from over thinking it and in turn the plate presentation enhances the dish for the diner as opposed to distracting the diner from the food , if that makes sense. 😂
post #11 of 18

great topic. some folks can just throw food at a plate and it looks great, others have no idea. Like i posted before I suggest getting and eye for design AWAY from food. If you train your eyes for pleasing design then it will come naturally. Draw, Paint, arrange objects in a pleasing way, then cook and plate. sometimes the best training comes NOT from the industry.

post #12 of 18

I love plating!  I even bought a book w/illustrations that depict various vegetables shapes to carve vegetables (if you have the time), that'll make the plate sing.  I rely on the meal itself. 

 

Here's a pic of my tiramisu in a sugar cage.  A golden sugar-fork would have really set it off.

post #13 of 18

thats so 80's ... so Roux brothers ..

post #14 of 18

put on a candied mint leaf !  (actually i`m really digging this retro thing your on)

post #15 of 18

That's very funny, I thought the same exact thing. A plain white plate, cage. Michel would be asking for the candied flower and Al would want to surround the plate with every

piece of cooking equipment they had around.

Retro?   Is that what I am? I guess I resemble that comment.:)

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post #16 of 18

retro never goes out of style, its like denim, chuck taylors or DM boots... BUT ...

you know as an ozzie cook i have NEVER SEEN a sugar Sydney Opera House ! COME ON aussie pastry cooks, get your ladle on and make some baskets ! (then cut and arrange them)

I know its naff as but , i think it would be pretty cute if done right... so daggy its funny .... you know, hipster ! :: D

post #17 of 18

The Opera House would be quite easy using pastillage. Add sugar for the nighttime view.

Or for a plate garnish, the Opera House made like an upside down Pavlova. Lift the meringue roofs off and voila!

BTW My three favorite nighttime experiences, The Sydney Opera House with color. the Cologne Cathedral, and The Basilica di San Pietro.

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post #18 of 18

yeah yeah yeah ! ... you know on a kinda side note ..... for some years i have been thinking about staging gurilla restaurants , kinda like a pop-up mixed with the acid-house party system... invite only, secret location, set menu, THEMES. just a bunch of die-hards having a tasty good time and PERFECT for over-the-top naff. btw, LOVE the pav' component !

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