When dining at a Michelin starred restaurant, you expect nothing less than a culinary work of art to be placed in front of you. The anticipation at receiving an exquisite dish forms an integral part of the dining experience.
Gone are the days of piling food high on the plate. These days, presentation tips are all about space, colour and texture - and let's not forget the famous side plating that came out of the Nordic boom.
If you’ve ever tried getting creative with your plating at home, inventing your own artistic vision for a dish, you'll know that it rarely turns out as you imagined it. The team at Chef Steps.com have got great tutorials on plating and presentation, take a look at their video for more expert tips:
Tracy Torres, a seasoned fine dining professional with a wealth of experience including a stint at Cafe Boulud, has teamed up with FastCoDesign.com to help de-mystify professional plating for us with some useful presentation tips.
In a simple series of step-by-step photos and explanations she gives us some practical tips to follow, applying the one grounding philosophy of "delighting the customer through variety and transparency." The chosen dish for the plating lesson is Pan Roasted Pork Chop with Garlic Sausage, Polenta, Stone Fruit, and Pecans. There is nowhere to hide with the plating of this dish Torres professes, "it says, pork, peaches, onions, pecans" .
5 Presentation Tips
Have a look at the easy steps below and take inspiration next time you stand in front of an empty white plate.
1. Prepare all your components - think about texture, colours and preparation methods.
2. Starting with a simple dollop of creamy polenta, Torres uses it as a stabaliser at the base of the dish, rather like a bulky layer of glue. The crucial point, she reminds us, is to think about white space. Plating off centre respects the photography rule and law of thirds. She then adds a few drops of peach puree around the polenta.
3. Showing the sear and the cook. There is nowhere for the chef to hide with the cooking of the meat - both the kitchen and the customer can see the level of cook of the protein. Notice the chop is also placed directly on the polenta as they are intended to be eaten together.
4. Continuing to fill the white space with carefully spaced colour, texture and taste. Sausage pairs with the acidic fruit puree. Plums, spring onions and pecans are added more casually to the plate.
5. The final saucing of the dish. Torres explains this is a more rustic touch to compliment the big brown chop.
What do you think? Seems simple enough. Even applying a just a few key presentation tips could give your food a more refined edge.
And just when you think you've mastered it...the ultimate in plating arrives: