Want to make a great impression on your dinner guests? Here, Staten Island, NY teacher Justin V. shares some of the tricks of the trade for plating like the pros…
One of the best feelings is after a long wait at a restaurant the waitress finally comes to your table with a plate of food so presentable you can’t help but smile. Whether you are having some guests over or want to do something special for your dinner date, here are some food plating techniques, tips, and reminders to wow your guests into thinking you have been doing this sort of thing for decades!
Use the right plate
That plate with the picture of the kitten in the center is a keeper! Just… keep it somewhere else. Ditch the floral-designed circular plates and cream-colored bowls for some classic white square plates. Chefs use bright flat square plates because it resembles a blank canvas for their form of artwork.
Use bright colors whenever possible
Always remember to use fresh ingredients! Think of the beautiful, plump, bright red of a raspberry next to an older, dark, soft one. This does not give permission to use ingredients you wouldn’t normally use just for the sake of color. But wouldn’t you agree mixing yellow, orange, and red bell peppers certainly pops rather than one color bell pepper? A simple mint leaf atop an otherwise dark dessert can really go a long way to make that dish pop. Contrasting colors are often used in restaurants and bakeries to heighten other senses… think of it like eating with your eyes.
Center your food
I cannot stress this enough — this is the easiest way to make your dish look like it is coming out of a restaurant kitchen rather than a Stouffer’s frozen lasagna tin. If you have made a delicious pasta dish, for example, use two forks to scoop a portion onto the center of the plate, then cup your hands and push the pasta together to make a small dome of food directly in the center. Now you can pour sauce over the dome, and garnish with a basil leaf or such. Use a wet napkin to clean the smears you have made pushing to the center. For a dessert, technique will leave the rim of the plate open for dusting with cocoa powder or powdered sugar.
Use these food plating techniques to liven up the look of your dish. Purchasing cheap utensils such as a squeeze bottle can really go a long way. Think of how much more “wow factor” a slice of cake will have with a simple squiggle of strawberry or chocolate sauce underneath it, or droplets of red wine reduction lightly placed near a steak. Use these simple reminders and you never know… you might catch your guest taking a selfie with your food.
Want to learn more about food preparation, baking, mixology or another cooking subject? Find a culinary teacher near you here!
Justin V. teaches baking and cake decorating in Staten Island, NY. He holds a degree in Pastry/Culinary and has worked for several restaurants and bakeries. Learn more about Justin here!