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When fancy plating fails?

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 

Yelping around looking for a restaurant to go out, I wanted to share a few photographs of fancy food plating that, IMO, fails to create an inspiring, attractive plate. These all come from the same restaurant however those are customer pics, and honestly some of their plates are beautiful, however for this thread I wanted to stick to what doesn't work for me. Note that this is a fairly fancy restaurant, with the average main course running $26 to $34.

 

1. Seafood salad

Not so sure about that tire mark at the bottom of the plate. Even once I've read it's actually olive tapenade, it doesn't make it look any better. 

 

 

2. Rib eye steak

Too much stuff on the plate? Where's the steak? 

 

 

3. Breakfast Burger

What? Is that really an authentic burger? :lol: Looks like an egg Benedict with a burger patty? Actually this one doesn't look half bad once you get past the fact that this is not your typical fast food burger. But what's that light pink sauce? Beef blood? Hmmm....

 

 

4. Brownie

This probably looked amazing in the mind of the chef, and it probably still looks amazing on a cold day. But it's hot in L.A.!! I'm not even looking forward to tasting that transparent liquidy-gel stuff on the plate. 

 


5. Carrot Cake

I understand the current trend to make desserts look messy (dirts, soils, powders, foams, etc....) but this may be taking things a bit far. 

 

post #2 of 40
Love this, French Fries! The desserts look much better than the savviest, but the wooden smash is really pretty gross. As to the skid-mark, well, the less said, the better....


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post #3 of 40

Great idea. 

I'll say that the seafood salad is the chef's commentary on oil spills. 

What is that square item under the breakfast burger? 

I can't say I'm fond of the piece of slate for plating either. Seems inappropriate somehow. 

Overall, too many flaws to count.

post #4 of 40

There is nothing I hate more than fancy desserts.  Give me some good old bread pudding, a big slice of chocolate cake, or a basic donut.  I don't want to look at or even eat fancy desserts.  I know it's an art but arghhh!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 40

"A young chef adds and adds and adds to the plate.  When you are older, you start to take away."  - Jacques Pepin

post #6 of 40

This is good.  What kind of seafood is under all that stuff? 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLehrer View Post

Love this, French Fries! The desserts look much better than the savviest, but the wooden smash is really pretty gross. As to the skid-mark, well, the less said, the better....


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Less said is hard to do with this one.

Are those pools of mustard around the breakfast burger?

post #7 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

What is that square item under the breakfast burger? 


It's a slice of French toast! On the photograph the sides look pinkish.. making it hard to identify. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimyra View Post
 

Are those pools of mustard around the breakfast burger?


Looks like hollandaise to me. 

post #8 of 40

Those are so wrong on so many levels.

What is that brown/tan fluid oozing from between the burger and the egg could be....?

If you look really close there seems to be a tiny egg trapped there...

 

In other news.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post
 

There is nothing I hate more than fancy desserts.  Give me some good old bread pudding, a big slice of chocolate cake, or a basic donut.  I don't want to look at or even eat fancy desserts.  I know it's an art but arghhh!

 

Being the holder of an insatiable addiction to all things sweet I always at least take a bite.

Even if it means closing my eyes lol.

Raisin bread pudding with either a lemon or Bourbon hard sauce still rocks my boat and I always order it. 

Always.

Depending upon who is working pantry, I sometimes order extra servings for the "doggy " bag.

Yep.

 

mimi

 

Forgot to hit send....

post #9 of 40

Number 4 has a face only a mother could love.....

Needs serious help.

Is that supposed to be an ice cream quenelle wrapped in pastry, only to find they really sux at wrapping stuff up?

I used to dread any occasion that required a pretty package and bow....

Now I just pay someone lol.

 

mimi

 

Ok, I have studied it ....looks like a homage to the Frog Prince (the lumpy gold glittered balls on top look like a crown of sorts).

I will stop now  :talk:

 

m.

post #10 of 40

i am so over with the spoon drag its like one day somone failed at making the Heart shaped drag and the world thought it looked cool 

post #11 of 40

My very first thought when I saw #4 was, "Look, someone glitter painted Kix cereal.":p

post #12 of 40
Some pretty scary appetite killers in there. Good way to WATCH your dessert intake.
The up side is, maybe Chris L. can finally make some convincing eyeballs outa some of this stuff! lol.gif
post #13 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meezenplaz View Post

maybe Chris L. can finally make some convincing eyeballs outa some of this stuff! lol.gif

 

:lol:

post #14 of 40

That skid mark looks like something my cat did across the floor...(no I am not going to elaborate!). That burger looks downright gross to me, desserts I like simple, piece of apple pie, pumpkin pie, lemon meringue...

post #15 of 40

From reading this thread, I have a fair idea what people consider fails. What would be the flip side? What works?

 

Critics and opinions are part and parcel of being a chef, but so is pleasing the dining public. So what you got?

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #16 of 40
Google "Kikunoi Honten" and "Kichisen" and click "images." Then think, "how do I serve my food in a way that draws effectively on what's beautiful about this?"


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post #17 of 40
Or google "most beautiful plates of food," and think, NOT, "how do I do that?" but RATHER "where did the plating fails in this thread go wrong in badly imitating this kind of plating?"


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post #18 of 40

@ Cheflayne. 

As for what works: I think most of the dishes in the pictures have good elements. It's just that they are all too piled up on each other. A bit of space makes a difference visually. 

The steak and the hamburger would be better with only one sauce, contrasted against the protein, more distinct from the other elements. 

        I have a couple of older books about culinary design. They are quite dated food wise but what I find most useful is the idea of balance and harmony when plating anything. A large item on one side of a plate or platter requires some smaller item(s) on the other side to provide balance. Several smaller items on one plate should be arranged so they seem in harmony. 

I'd like to demonstrate that here but I'm no good at drawing pictures with text.

     In the carrot cake, the cake and quenelle would be better separated to opposite sides, with the white powder against the darker cake and the darker powder against the lighter colored quenelle. The gold balls make more sense if less in number (3) set off against the white top of the cake. 

So color balance clearly matters. Visual clarity is another issue. You shouldn't muddle a distinctly colored item with others of a similar color in direct contact. 

     For the seafood salad, the use of a simple rectangular stencil would do a lot to keep the tapenade from it's unfortunate visual associations. That would also keep it more in line with the tight square that the fish is composed of while also providing a bit of geometric contrast. The green dab of sauce could be a greater amount, with the whiter fish on top, the pointy green/white salad would then be more visually striking set apart on top of the rectangular shape of tapenade. 

    Naturally flavor is of first importance in any dish. But in plate compositions, using many of the same visual guides from the other arts becomes very useful. 

post #19 of 40
Could you give references on your food design books?


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post #20 of 40

Culinary Design and Decoration by William Emery, 1980. Publisher- Van Nostrand Reinhold Company is the one I have at hand. 

I had another I can't find right now. I may have  lost it. I certainly hope not. 

Also useful is the study of color contrasts used in oil painting and the arts generally as well as the essential principles of graphic design. 

post #21 of 40

Absolutely BRILLIANT!!!

Quote:

 Critics and opinions are part and parcel of being a chef, but so is pleasing the dining public. So what you got?

 

I've just had a weekend of idiots giving me their opinions and criticisms of dishes I've made, and paid well for too, that were completely wiped out ... NO leftovers. Look jerkoff ... EVERYTHING was eaten. Everyone was happy. YOU ate the food. Don't criticize my anything

 

Almost always middle-aged to mature-aged guys (55-70) who think they are chefs ... but actually suck. 

 

 

 

 

LOL ... Love Mondays.

post #22 of 40

I know lots of people that finished their meal and hated it. Even if it was plated nicely or looks like some of the above posted disasters. It's all in the cost-benefit analysis of each individual, and how they express themselves. Some don't want to make waves, others don't believe it will do any good to voice an opinion, yet still need to satiate hunger.  You know the expression "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." It don't mean sh*t if someone pays for it and ate it all. It can still be hot garbage.

 

Also, a "non-pro" has every right to criticize. If nobody were allowed to be critical about food, there would be no rating system. There would be no restaurant critics. There would be no Michelin stars. There wouldn't even be movie reviewers, or social or literary criticism. There would be no cross pollination of ideas. 

 

Besides, cooking is not "rocket surgery," right? I mean, anybody can do it if it's so easy, so then why can't anybody be a critic? 

post #23 of 40

Personally I hate really foo foo plating. Put my food on the plate in a neat manner so I can eat it!

post #24 of 40

Long time reader, fairly new poster here. I'm a simple home cook and my opinion should be taken with however many grains of salt that deserves (ie, many grains!). 

 

There are plating decisions that result in delight on the part of the diner, and there are plating designs that... look like someone unrolled a diaper and went Pollack on the plate, because swooshy brown things are in, right? I think it's fairly obvious which chef understands how the dish comes across to a diner, and which are just following a trend without stepping outside of their own head. Honestly, bravo to those who get it. It's not easy to make art out of delicious food, no matter how excellent is. It's a separate and coveted skillset. 

 

So I don't look down on chefs who make excellent food and present it in a less than ideal way, because I'm getting an awesome meal regardless. It's just that the next level is a chef who can delight all the senses... even the eyes. An artist. 

 

edit- I just want to emphasize that I don't look down on any chefs. I'm just sincerely grateful for noms. Don't kill me. o_o


Edited by Helenof - 10/19/16 at 6:37pm
post #25 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helenof View Post
 

So I don't look down on chefs who make excellent food and present it in a less than ideal way, because I'm getting an awesome meal regardless. It's just that the next level is a chef who can delight all the senses... even the eyes. An artist. 


Very well said. Couldn't have said it better myself. 

post #26 of 40

My mom was an interior decorator (ahh the 70's...avocado and gold anyone?) and gave me some good advice.

Don't let the husband hang the wall decos or they will all be at ceiling height and whether putting together a plate or creating a side table tableau start with 3 items and go from there.

So.. the dessert and a spot or a splash of color (sauce) and a garnish...all on a plate that allows room to breathe.

 

mimi

post #27 of 40

In my opinion good plating is not only like good art, but rather good "design". Plating food certainly encompasses traditional art concerns such as the color palette (even though it's been proven certain colors are more appealing to appetite than others), and composition. Where I feel it differs is in the functional aspect. You can have a beautiful set of colors plated, but if the food is strewn about or stacked in such a way that it becomes difficult for the user to consume the food, the plating has failed at function.

 

So in order to be successful at plating, I feel the chef must have both an artistic knowledge, complimentary and contrasting colors, composition, etc. as well as an understanding of how they wish the diner to experience their dish in both flavor and texture, with knowledge on how to plate in a way to lead the diner into that experience.

post #28 of 40

Jake ... When those who hire me continue to hire me again they are obviously stating their opinion. I take NO criticism from guys like that past weekend, or you and others with NO credentials. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"We work in kitchens ... It ain'te rocket surgery."

 

post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by IceMan View Post

I take NO criticism from guys like that past weekend, or you and others with NO credentials.[/SIZE] 

I suppose that's your right, but I'm curious why. Is it a confidence issue? I mean, in what way does it burden you to receive criticism?

For me, I use criticism as a means to see a dish from another perspective. It doesn't mean that I'll immediately agree and make changes, but it certainly doesn't inconvenience me in any way to welcome feedback.
post #30 of 40

From the perspective of a working chef, hearing criticism can get tiresome. Yes, on the flip side, chefs get to hear praise as well. BUT, guess which is more readily offered. There is an old adage in the restaurant business "If a guest enjoys their dinner, they will tell their best friend. If they don't enjoy their dinner, they will tell ten of their friends."

 

Lets say hypothetically...

 

1.) A person cooking at home puts a meal for friends and is done. They are proud of their efforts, but curious on how to possibly improve, so thereby receptive to constructive criticism Their friends offer tidbits, but lean more to thanking the cook. Everybody is content.

 

2.) A working wife with a hubby and three kids, rushes home to put dinner on the table for her family. She is tired, but proud of her efforts and the family sits down to a nice dinner. Odds are she might be open to a critique from hubby, but things will go better if hubby only offers thanks.

 

A working chef finishes up his fourteen hour day and pushes the last of 300 dinners out the service window. He is exhausted, but proud of his efforts. He put his blood, sweat, tears,and heart out there tonight and has been doing this for 6 days a week for a few decades now... Do you think he can relate more to scenario 1.) or scenario 2.)

 

Yes the chef gets paid to do what he does and so is fair game to feedback from the people paying, but let's face it, the job ain't about the cash. Cash is not the driving force, any more than it is for the wife in number 2.) 

 

I can relate to both scenarios that I offered up, but one last facet to consider, both scenarios occur once a day for the cook involved in the scenario. For a working chef, he gets to confront that scenario 300 (hypothetical number) times a day 6 days a week.

 

Hope this sheds a little light from this side of the "pass"...("pass" being the service window in restaurants where chefs put the finished product)

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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