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Plating / Presentation ideas

6676 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  isa
Hi, Everyone.

What's a good resource for plate presentation ideas / models? I'm not at all artistic, but my grades in school rely heavily on the appearance of my final product.

Any ideas on websites, books, magazines that I can check out for inspiration (or flat out plagiarism)? Something with tons of pictures plus basic principles of "eating with your eyes" would be awesome.


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A few suggestions:

Art Culinaire (a quarterly hardbound magazine-book)
Any book by Charlie Trotter
The French Laundry cookbook
Charlie Palmer's cookbook (forget the name right now)

These books have some very intense presentations-lots of things going on, on the plate. A lot of the stuff is very advanced, but can give you some great ideas.

I understand your frustration as it took me a while to understand this as well. You can look at magazines and books for inspiration but what it really comes down to is that you need a set of rules.

In America there seems to be trends more than rules. Everything is in the centre of the plate, in towers of varying heights. Though there seems to be a certain ennui with this style from a professional's standpoint, it is still the prevailing one.

A highly respected French chef recently taught me his principles of presentation. I hope this helps you.

The first one is to present 2 elements, side by side with the sauce in the middle. For example, a meat sitting on a dice of potatoes, opposite an artichoke heart containing peas or baby veg whathaveyou.

The second is the triangular shape. Three elements on the plate, sauce in the middle.

The third is called en jardinière. The protein is in the centre with the sauce, likely sitting on the starch, and the veg are scattered around, either close or on their own circumference.

Whatever pattern you choose, just remember that there should be no food or sauce within one inch of the inner rim of the plate. It's amazing how clean plates look once you respect that rule!

Hope this helps.
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My Mom was a good artist and her medium was watercolors. I remember when I was little having a conversation with her as she was plating dinner at home. Now the woman wasn't accomplished as a cook, she could make casseroles, burgers, etc, however her plates looked very good because she tended to think of plates like she painted. Colors, patterns and elements of texture like she was used to seeing in her work. She told me that if it looked good on a plate it would make it taste better.
Since then I have heard the expression "painting plates". I understand completely.
Going out to eat is a great way to see different presentations.
When I was in school a group of us went to lunch and dinner a few times a week together at different places (never the same one twice) and all ordered different items. We all observed each others presentations as well as sampled each dish.

A pasrty che once told me to make the plate sexy.
thin slices are sexy
smooth lines are sexy
odd numbers are sexy

But keep in mind that taste is king!
Also be careful about making the plate too busy.
Sometimes less is more.

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A few years ago Konemann published a serie of books titled Eurodélices A la table des grands chefs. The books are available in English.

Every dishes is shown plated. The pictures are really georgous. Maybe those books would inspire you.
I just love Cheftalk.

Anneke, Peach, miahoy: Thanks for the detailed tips! I'll let you know how the chefs react to my "applied principles."

Pete, Isa: Merci for the resources. I'm going to check online to see if I can get these publications here in Paris.

BTW, I think some chefs at school take it too far. This one girl in my class put blood red sirloin on her plate and totally got a great mark for it because the chef liked the color combination. I'm just glad I'm not eating it. ;)
Here is the ISBN of one of the book in the serie, it might help you to find them.

A la table des grands chefs
ISBN: 3829052758
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