There’s something about a well-presented dinner that makes you stop and stare, regardless of how ravenous you might be. This effect is the result of a technique called “food plating”; and it is truly an art in and of itself.
Plating food is an art form. While chefs are usually very creative people, sometimes it takes an artist to look over the dishes and arrange them so that the visual impact is as powerful as the texture, smell and taste.
“We eat with our eyes first,” David Wynne, Culinary Arts instructor at The Art institute of Seattle told Brendan Purves (source). In order to provide the next generation of chefs with the skills they need to ensure that guests are only seeing the good side of their dishes, Wynne developed a system using Play-Doh.
His students would sculpt their dishes from Play-Doh and arrange them on the plate. “When they get to cooking the food, they have a plan in mind,” Wynne explains.
Use this trick in your restaurant – if there’s a new dish on the menu, craft the shapes from Play-Doh and arrange it to your liking. This saves on food waste and ensures that you and your team will all know the plating plan ahead of time.
Another school of thought on plating food is that it tells a story. Chef Vicky Lau, who heads the team at Tate Dining Room & Bar, believes that each dish tells a story. A story of the people who grew or raised the ingredients. “For me, cooking is a harmony of art, craft and science. I am always driven by my passion to tell a story. Therefore, the dish that best defines me is one that incorporates all of these factors,” Lau told Seyine Park of The Art of Plating. She continues: “We visualize and internalize the theme or memory and imagine how we can convey this. We think about the sounds, smells and colors this might evoke.”
So next time you’re at a restaurant or when you’re reviewing the dishes your chef has created, take a good long look before you dig in. Imagine the story that the chef is trying to tell. Consider the art on the plate before you. Then make sure you thank the chef.
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