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< Back to news 06 November, 2014

Plating up: Knowing the rules means you can break them

Any chef worth his or her salt will know that there are some reliable basic rules for plating-up. These rules will serve you well. At least to the point when confidence and experience means a chef can start experimenting and developing their own style.

by Beacon Supplier Lockhart

Whatever stage of proficiency a chef has reached, it’s always useful to remind oneself of the basics, which means at the very least you can continue to bend and break the rules to make your food presentation unique and memorable.

Before we launch into the rules it’s worth remembering what many chefs have told Trend Set when asked about food presentation. It’s not just about art. How your food is presented should also give the diner an idea of how to approach eating and enjoying what they’ve ordered. Food is about the whole experience – sight, sounds, smells, texture and flavour.

  • Size matters

When it comes to putting food on the plate less is definitely more but – while avoiding overloading the serving dish – diners will be hungry and you need to fulfil their appetite. Use large or oversized plates and bowls to give your food the space to impress and still satisfy your customers. Also, when it comes to the portion sizes for each element of the dish, vary the sizes from small to big. This will often be dictated by the richness of each ingredient.

  • Whiter than white

You can’t beat a big white canvas to set-off the different elements of your dish. The understated white platebackground will give your food extra colour and vibrancy, which will make it more desirable.

  • Colour me good

At the very start of creating a plate of food you should be considering the colour of your ingredients and the different elements of the dish. Contrast is a key. A dish that features all the same colour looks naturally washed out and unappetising, but the combined colours of vibrant vegetables, beautifully seared meat, a deep rich sauce and an accent garnish is a sight for hungry eyes.

  • Tempting textures

Like colour, you need to vary the textures on the plate. If all the different elements of the dish are soft then the dish will look unappealing. Contrast crisp, al dente, soft and liquid elements together to make the plate of food interesting, varied and irresistible.

  • Give it a focal point

While every element of the dish needs to look beautiful on the plate, it helps presentation to have a main star of the dish. By putting the key ingredient on a pedestal it will give the plate a focal point and structure. All other elements can be lovingly arranged around the main attraction and it will give the dish an identity.

  • The height of fashion

Building on the previous theme about a focal point, it is important to raise your food presentation above the competition. Height gives your dish impact and structure, so elevate and stack your ingredients in layers but don’t carried away, you’re not building skyscrapers.

  • Ground sauce

Don’t have your dish swimming in sauce. Use it as decoration and if you want to give diners the option to add more sauce then provide them with a small side jug. Add the sauce to the base of the dish. Use a brush or squeeze bottle to distribute and be artistic with swirls, zigzags and other simple patterns.

  • Garnish is good

A garnish should be subtle. It should enhance a dish and not overpower. Use a garnish that gives the dish a good contrasting colour but also match it to the ingredients and flavours of the dish.

  • Clock it in

There is also the classical plating technique that uses three basic food items – main, starch and vegetables – positioned as if the plate is the face of a clock. The main ingredient, usually protein, is traditionally placed at 6 o’clock, the starch at 11 o’clock, and the vegetables at 2 o’clock. The plate is served with the main ingredient facing the diner.

Beacon customers are currently benefiting from double discount via Lockhart throughout October and November. Contact us to find out more, or how your business can benefit from Beacon's supplier terms.