9 TIPS FOR PLATING FOOD
We all eat with our eyes. Even though I secretly love a little flop, it’s not something I want to serve to guests. So without further ado, here are 9 simple tips that can make your plating look more professional, and more importantly, more delicious.
My plating is definitely something that could do with some work, so I’ll be applying these tips to my future recipes. Let me know if you see any improvements.
- Use a Bigger Plate
Even if you’re only dishing a small portion such as a starter, using a big plate and neatly centering your food gives it visual breathing room and makes it stand out nicely.
Pick a focal point for your dish and let the other ingredients work around it. Your focal point is usually your main ingredient but in some cases it might be a stack of a few things.
- Odds vs. Evens
Food is art. For this reason, applying arts simple rule of odds can dramatically help your plating. The eye naturally enjoys odd numbers of items displayed together, so whatever you’re plating, try plate 3 instead of 2 (or 5 instead of 4, etc.) 1 also counts as an odd number, so if your ingredients are bigger, then just let 1 do the job as the main feature on a plate.
- Clean Up
Yes, we know that sauce you made is delicious and you want every bite of it that you can get, but I promise, the one drop that spilled on the edge isn’t going to make a difference so rather wipe it off. Every small detail counts in plating, including the details you don’t want.
- Pop Your Colour
Collar popping? No. Colour popping? Hell yes. Adding some complementary colour to your dish can have a great impact. For example, if you’re cooking a Thai green curry, add some red pepper so that the red breaks the green. Garnish is also a great way to add some colour to food that’s looking dull.
The bonus is that a colourful plate is usually a healthy plate. Different vitamins and minerals colour our food, so eating more colours in one meal usually means we’re getting a wider variety of these.
As mentioned above, garnishing can add a pop of colour and flavour to a meal. My personal favourite garnishings are some rough chopped coriander and lemon zest, dependent on the meal of course. Saving a little of the ingredients you used for cooking is always a win as it means you don’t have to buy anything extra, and you know it will go well with the dish. And please people, don’t plate anything inedible. It just sets people up for disappointment (and choking.)
- Pick your plate.
It’s all good and well to plate your food well, but if it’s on a plate that you painted when you were 6, it’s going to look like it was made by a 6-year-old. White plates are your safest bet as they let the food do all the talking, but don’t be afraid to play with colours and textures. Contrast is usually a good tool to use. A dark patterned plate can really bring to life food that is simple and light in shape.
- Stack ‘em up.
Stacking is the simplest method of plating, but consider what ingredients work best in this format. Whatever you’re stacking needs to taste good together and look good together. You also need to be wary of toppling so watch out for soft ingredients or making your tower too tall.
- Plan ahead.
With food presentation, as with anything, having a plan helps. If you’ve got at least a rough idea in your head, you’ll know how to slice your ingredients, what to put down first, and what to add to make it a feature piece.