Have you ever wondered why dishes at restaurants look so good? The plates look very clean, elegant, and everything seems to be in such an order and eye-catching. The secret is food plating, and today I’m going to tell you 7 simple food plating tips FOR BEGINNERS.
What is food plating?
Simply saying, food plating is a presentation of your dish. It ranges from choosing a form and color of a plate to putting the last decoration. Even though a flavor is of very high importance, first, we eat with our eyes. The more attractive it looks, the better.
A plate you’ve chosen is like a frame for your painting, so choose it wisely. Make it attractive, elegant, subtle, and represent not only a dish but yourself as a chef as well.
7 simple food plating tips for beginners
1. Decide which part of your dish is main and focus on how to represent it the best.
When plating, each component is important but not equally. Fish, chicken, cake, tart, stew… these are only a few that we firstly think of when creating something. Only then come garnishes. So don’t try to make it look like garnish is the most important. Garnish complements, deepens, and completes the flavor, but the main part still stays dominant, and your task is to show that.
2. Contrasting colors.
Everything is about the first impression. Learn about colors, how to choose the right ones.
Most of the time, when you walk into a posh restaurant and see waiters bringing plates, your eyes catch the colors and elegancy. You see it, you smell it, you want it.
If the dish is pale in color, don’t put it on a white plate. Choose the one where the color stands out, where you can clearly see what is done. On the other hand, if the dish is very colorful, don’t choose a colorful plate cause it will be too much. A person won’t know where exactly to look. In a nutshell, be creative but mindful and careful. Also, if you feel there’s nothing to do with the main ingredients to create color contrast, use tip number 7.
3. Simple plating tip – create height.
Whenever you can, and especially if the dish is small, make it high. The plate itself is already flat, so now it’s time to make the food ‘walk’ out of the plate. I’m not saying that it’s always possible and needed, but for instance, in this photo, the cake would look lame if not the height, don’t you agree? If a plate is small, your dish has to go up. Leave space on a plate, don’t overcrowd it.
4. Less is more.
Food plating is the knowledge of how to plate food nicely and having a feeling of when to stop.
I guess it applies everywhere in our lives. You always have to find balance. Putting too much stuff won’t make it look elegant. It will make a mess. And if there is too little stuff, it will look like something’s missing. With practice, you gonna start noticing that. If you are willing to learn, I recommend watching videos, going to nice restaurants, paying attention to details that are most of the time hard to find.
5. Always use odd numbers.
Odd numbers give you more freedom and look much better. At the restaurants, I agree, even numbers are even more practical as people share food and want to do it equally. Visually, odd numbers are more eye-catching and some kind more positive. For instance, every time I try to put an even number of red vein sorrel on a dish, I have to take one out cause it looks like something’s wrong. This tip depends on each individual, but I’m sure I’ll find someone who agrees with me.
6. Food plating is about different textures & contrasting flavors.
After a chef passes the first barrier – the appearance, it’s time to check the second barrier. It’s time to plate the textures.
Palate fatigue. It happens when everything tastes the same, and you get tired of simply eating a meal. Imagine eating a steak with fries. At first, it’s really nice, especially if you’re hungry. Still, after a while, you get bored, everything seems to taste the same, and without even finishing a dish, you say you’re full.
The truth is that if more different textures and flavors were keeping you interested and probably refreshed (in this case, something like a salad), you would have finished it. Plate not only to look good but to be interesting and flavorful as well.
7. Use green garnishes, edible stuff, flowers, and different color & flavor oils.
And we finally got to the finishing touches in these 7 simple food plating tips for beginners.
If you looked at the dishes at Michelin star restaurants or even at ‘simpler’ ones like Scott’s (where I work), you would notice that those dishes have small details that make the plate look finished. Usually, it’s some small green leaves or flowers. They also create more contrast, so the dish looks more eye-catching. Coriander cress, red vein sorrel, purple shiso leaves, nasturtium leaves are just a few examples to make your plate look outstanding. You have no idea how many edible flowers there are!
Don’t forget oils as well. Especially if you work with white plates, different color oils might help. Just make sure to fit the taste.
Don’t stick to the rules. Get more creative.
On the Internet, we see lots of rules of how to correctly represent a dish. I bet you’ve even heard about a plate clock. To my mind, creativity and thinking out of the box are more important. There are no restaurants which are famous for sticking to what everybody says. They are great because of the unique and extraordinary chefs’ minds.