– By Lisa Wasson And Andrea Gaines
Plating pulls a dish together, using color for visual appeal, showcasing ingredients and revealing the flavors and textures to be enjoyed. It isn’t so much about making something look pretty as it is about making it look appetizing. Here are the basics of good plating, along with some great examples.
Good plating …
Is more than a garnish. Everything on the plate should be edible and compliment the flavors in the dish.
Is simple. Even if the presentation is a bit unstructured and scattered, it has a limited number of features and a decided theme – whether casual or 5-Star.
Showcases the food. Placing a smaller portion of food on a larger plate or platter, and otherwise allowing the food to be the focus of attention can achieve this.
Balances color. The dark and neutral colors of meat, bread and pasta for example, are offset by bright greens, reds, pink, yellow and orange.
Structures the dish. Sometime this means clustering items in threes – with starch at 10 o’clock, proteins at 6 o’clock and vegetables at 2 o’clock; sometimes this means creating a stack or pyramid; sometimes it means using geometric patterns to emphasize contrasts in flavor and color.
Shows creativity. Food stylists say nothing says good plating more than something that surprises – a chilled shrimp accenting a fish dish, a vertical sprig of fresh herb, a beautiful edible flower resting atop a hearty steak.
Fancy Grilled Steak: Make a signature piece of meat, fish or pork the focus of your plate. Here, a filet mignon is dressed with a small pool of gravy, a dried red pepper, julienned fried onion and a spring of thyme.
Rustic Brochette: French or Italian toast rounds – topped with your favorite brochette mixture and garnished with freshly ground black pepper and cherry tomatoes – is simple, rustic and beautiful.
Spaghetti With Mushrooms & Orange: Plate your pasta to reveal its flavors. Here, creamy mushrooms are presented as a topping with strips of orange zest. A spray of savory orange sauce finishes off the dish.
Blue Cheese Burger: For burgers – and any kind of sandwich, really – put the ingredients together in a loose way that lets all of them show … much more appetizing than a regular old closed face sandwich plate.
Sliced Meats & Cheeses: Arranged on a cutting board with some fresh greens and herbs, sliced meats and cheeses look delicious and ready to snack on – on their own or with a cracker or slice of bread.
Pizza: Fresh out of the oven pizza benefits from an added something – a sprinkling of arugula, a drizzle of oil, a chiffonade of basil, a sprinkling of fresh parsley or thyme or a grind or two of fresh pepper.
About Andrea & Lisa: Andrea and Lisa are cousins who grew up on Long Island together. Andrea is a well-know writer for the Blue Ridge Leader & Loudoun Today. Lisa is a private chef who has been making people’s mouths water ever since she started baking fresh muffins for her office mates in New York City.