I’ve been thinking a lot about atmosphere and aesthetics these days and how it affects our experience of food and dining. I know most people care about appearance on some level, the most basic being that the food we cook and eat should look at least appetizing.
What I have been thinking about are the levels beyond that to plate and platter presentation, how to make a buffet look beautiful and how to create an atmospheric room for dining. I have some tips that could prove helpful, especially as we are getting closer to the holidays and entertaining ramps up. I understand not everyone feels like they have a knack for this kind of thing, let alone aspires to be Martha Stewart. So, I'll stick to the most basic techniques for food presentation.
1. Food should stay within the perimeters of the rim of the plate. There was a recent trend (which I think is ending) to sprinkle or drizzle food on the rim. This can look messy and contrived.
2. The food shouldn’t fill the entire plate. You should be able to see the plate around the food.
3. The food should be placed on the plate so it builds height.
- If you put mashed potatoes on the plate or something that has some density to it, place it on the plate holding the spoon vertically.
- If you are placing greens, julienne vegetables or something long use tongs and put the food on in 3 additions, stacking them alternately with each addition.
- Overlap your food slightly, but don’t separate it.
4. If you garnish, garnish with an ingredient that is in the dish. You wouldn't put parsley on a dish that doesn’t have any parsley in it.
5. Use color. You always need some color on the plate, which can be provided by vegetables and or greens.
6. Plate in odd numbers on the plate, which are more esthetically pleasing. This excludes sauces.
7. Use one sauce. It's better for flavor and presentation.
8. Plate your guests' food for them. It's a gracious touch to serve people, and that is the only way to manage presentation.
Would you want to learn more on platter and table/buffet presentation in a future blog? Do you have some plating tips of your own to share?