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Plating Techniques

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Alright guys and gals.  I have a question for all the line cooks and chefs out there.  I just started in Chicago culinary world.  And I have joined up with this Grassroots Neighborhood Eatery.  Now this place has been ((Recently renamed)) and a new chef has taken over.  He is trying and is a year ahead of me in the culinary world.  Now the older guys that have worked there for more than 4+ years have seen the last chef run it into the ground.  This is where the problem arises. 


These older guys are all set for "Speed over Plating";  yet there is NO uniformity.  The plates of zero consistency other than the volume of the food.  Which is a "rough estimate".  Now as a serious cook, this both frightens me and terrifies me.  I can see where speed over plating is essential.  But I also know people eat with their eyes first.  I have personally started my own "style" of plating.  And everyone is upset that I am not up to their standards for speed over plating.  


My inquiry, is to learn the plating while the season is slow.  ((We are right next to a main theater which has select seasons to offer.)) And that, this method to myself, I can build my speed for the plating and increase the speed of the plating to a "presentable standard".  That is to say while the season is slow and that way when the busier season hits, My speed will be on par with theirs. I am looking for something that will both draw the attention to the plate without losing the efficiency of the speed as well.  I basically run the Garde Manger side as well as learning the grill.  The Grill is very clean and cut and nothing to write home about.  But, I know that salads and pizza's can be "Spruced up" to be made more appealing.  


The problem:  Chef already knows there is no standard and there needs to be one.  The older guys at the restaurant wont sacrifice speed for uniformity.  And, me, the new guy on the chopping block that wants to see better standards!  So, without breaking the team, how can I present this to having ONE standard at the restaurant without losing the line over this?



PS the Older guys had seen the last chef of 18 years run it from a fine dine down to a "lower end bar" pub.  The new chef wants a southern style "High End" bar cuisine.

post #2 of 12
What is your role in the kitchen? Are you a sous chef or in some supervisory or management role, or are you new to the culinary world?

While I agree that people eat with their eyes first, it's really the head chef that should be establishing this standard and enforcing it. If it was high on his list of priorities, he may have already reviewed it as an area for improvement.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
No, like i said I'm new to Chicago's culinary world, but I have over 6 years in the culinary world. I'm just the garde manger. And I have talked to chef about this and he agrees there does need to be a standard. I myself am trying not to step on toes until this process is established.
post #4 of 12

First, in what way is the presentation lacking?  are the plates sloppy? Are they not wiping the drips and spatters off?    Or is the plate presentation not fancy enough to suit you?  

     Are you spending too much time trying to make fish and chips look fancy and slowing down the tickets? 

   Can you be more precise about what kind of standard you would like to see?

So if the cooks are sending out second rate plates just to be faster,You are to be commended for recognizing the need and wanting to improve things. 

If the tickets are slowing down because you are trying to make things fancy when they don't need to be, then you need to back off. 


     Second, Setting the standard for presentation or anything else is the chef's job, not yours. The chef agrees there needs to be a standard. Has he mentioned that he will begin implementing one?  how soon will he be setting that standard? 


I will guess that the plates are sloppy and going out under par.   You say the older chefs "watched" as the last chef of 18 years ran the place down. So they worked right beside him and said or did nothing? And now they have a bad habit of sending out food badly but quickly. And yet the former chef is to blame? 

 Restaurants change over time. Going from fine dining to pub food may simply be a reflection of the business changing over time. Any bad habits the staff have are their own responsibility, not the chef who doesn't work there any longer. 

    I recommend you decide how much time you want to devote to this place. If they don't improve their standard in a week, a month, six months, a year, then what?   How long do you want to hang on waiting for things to improve with no visible effort in sight? 

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
All good points. And I do agree it is chefs job to set the standard for plate presentation. A perfect example. They are literally tossing a salad and just throwing it on a plate with no cohesive design to it and just sending it out. A wrap gets cut it half and nothing else on the plate. And the desserts are just "plopped" together. F.o.H. loves it when I plate because they get tips. I have noticed the plates not being wiped off as they go out yes. And also it is a part of of me having a higher standard for the food yes. In part in could back off if I chose not to stay with this company yes. After all, i do prefer finer dine foods.
post #6 of 12

"The new chef wants a southern style "High End" bar cuisine."


Could you give me examples of this cuisine please?  Where did your chef get his/her experience in southern cooking?

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Basically steak and potatoes but with a high end spin on it. Like a ribeye with pruciutto wrapped asparagus and cognac sauce with roasted red potatoes. Or a Steak frites with brown gravy. And roasted corn and fried green tomato's as an app. As far as his experience, I cannot answer that. From all that I know is he lucked into the main chef position because the other main chef, that wanted the position backed out for unknown reasons. The Chef has only 2 more year of experience than I do. But has a better reputation. Due to his culinary training and past positions in Vegas. Beyond that I can not tell you what experience he had or has.
Edited by TheCookSaigium - 9/8/16 at 7:25am
post #8 of 12

Steak frites with brown gravy is also known as poutine.  It is a dish that originated in Quebec.


Prosciutto wrapped asparagus and cognac sauce, a southern version would use country ham with a whisky sauce.


Do a little more research on southern food.


Good luck and don't forget the grits and greens

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey its "his take on the southern style food"; not mine, he is the chef.  I'm just the southerner from Texas that grew up in a bar.. 

post #10 of 12

It's interesting, I think that it sounds like you're pushing it to be finer dining than what the head chef wants. 


I mean, the plating suggestions that you're making include adding something to the finished dish - a wrap cut in half with "nothing else on the plate" would be the exact way that the menu item was designed. That said, if this isn't the case, then either the chef or a sous chef should be addressing this as non-compliance to quality or design standards. 


It's up to the chef and the chef alone to address the issue of plating, and if everyone is doing it one way except for you and the chef doesn't see an issue, then it does appear that you're the one that's non-compliant and slower than the other line cooks. If you want to do the fine dining and plating stuff, perhaps look for a new place to make home in that does that. 

post #11 of 12
To change the culture you need to lead, but you can't just lead by talking, you have to lead by doing, and to be given the opportunity, you have to do your own thing well first.

So make sure your station is flawless first. That's the first step.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
I see, I'll start by doing both keeping my station spotless. And making sure I plate according to their standards. I mean, I dislike that, sure. But, as you suggest Nauticus, its up to the main chef. All I know is he wants a standard. But, I doubt he knows what that standard is yet. There is no sous chef. Like in said, its just a bar type setting now. So no official titles minus the head chef. As far as me being the over zealous one. I sometimes just can't help it. I want the customers to be happy. But as far as speed, i already have that down now. Perfect example. Had perfect communication on the line Monday and Tuesday nights, and I'll see tomorrow if I can repeat the process. Just as well maintaining my station to a flawless perfection. ((Which I being the clean freak I am is not an issue.)) When I first started this post, I had only been at the job three days. Now its been over a week and I already have pretty much everything on the menu down. Luckily Chef is allowing me to stay for brunch and doesn't want me to do dinner. ((I had asked previously if I could find an evening job as well, at a finer dine establishment.)) Which i today just started. So knowably this other restaurant will calm my nerves about plating and the like and I can focus on better improving my standard.

As far as everything else Nauticus, I digress, I'll keep both jobs but just nock off my standard at grass roots and just let it be.
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