Mar 27, 2007

Art of plating (I) : Tips for good looking dishes

In our every day cooking lessons, we are doing a lot of plating, as this is part of the procedure of the recipe. During those moments, I found that we were only trying to copy the chef's instructions rather than having genuine plating. I thought that it would be very useful to get some information (tips, technics, rules, etc...) about the art of plating. Surprisingly, I was not able to find any books on this topic in the school's library, usually pretty much well offering nice books and DVDs. So I had a try on the internet without much chance either. I could hardly find any information which was a greater surprise to me. Plating is so important in modern cooking that I thought I would be able to find consistant materials about it. I believe that plating and good looking dish are at least as important as flavoring, procedure and ingredients...

So, from my experience and thanks to some partial information I got from the internet, here are a few tips to plate your dishes...(to be continued...) :

1. You can forget key ingredients when plating up, so make a list for every course.

2. Mixing salad greens, vegetables and noodles in a bowl by hand before plating ensures even distribution of the dressing.

3. A small squeezy bottle (with a tiny hole) is perfect for circling the food with quality oils and vinegars.

4. For perfect mounds of spaghetti, twirl the plate as you serve it up.

5. Odd numbers on a plate have more impact than even.

6. For thicker sauces use a spoon, for thinner use a ladle Remember it's always better to add sauces after plating in order to control the finished dish for flavour and aesthetics.

7. Use coloured or patterned charger plates, with white dinner plates, to accentuate the food while incorporating the colours of the table setting.

8. Don't be tempted to overload the plate; less is more.

9. Keep the rim of the plate clear of food and garnishes, and remember to wipe clean any dribbles.

10. If food is sitting for a few moments, drizzle extra virgin or flavoured oil over vegetables or meat just before serving to add freshness, flavour and gloss.

11. Individually plate salads with the heaviest ingredients forming the foundation upon which lighter ingredients are added, thereby achieving the required height.
12. Keep food well within the edges of the plate to provide a frame and separate components - especially effective with entrees and desserts.

13. Put dessert plates in the freezer for a few minutes before plating to prevent icecream or whipped cream from losing its grip and sliding around.

To be continued...

The Blue Chef

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