One of the best parts of plating is in the decoration. Having a few special tools on hand will help you create your vision and elevate a plate from drab to dazzling. Tools like long thin tweezers are a chef’s best friend for purposefully placing tinier items.
Squeeze bottles are helpful
when you want to add perfect drops, or lively drizzles of sauces and
Or, grab a brush and paint on a streak of sauce. You can even use a regular spoon too. Place a puddle of sauce (works best with thicker sauces) on the plate and drag the back of the spoon through the sauce in one, swift movement. The lines and shapes will add movement and visual interest.
If you have a spiralizer
or julienne peeler, you can enhance the presentation of even the simplest
components, an apple corer is also great for making apple chips.
And don’t forget your trusty knife. Simply cutting your fruits or vegetables into unusual shapes can add something new and fun to the plate. Cookie cutters also work perfectly for this as well.
The key though is to not get
too obsessed with making it look perfect. A bit of controlled messiness will
feel more balanced and visually enjoyable than something rigid. Offset straight
lines with something round and vice versa. Combine and contrast. Play around
with asymmetry. Let the food land naturally when sprinkling something onto the
plate. It will all feel more balanced and less fussy.
How to Pick the Perfect Plate
When it comes to plating, it’s not just about the food, but the plate you’ll be placing the food upon, too. While colour is probably the most important, shape and size can affect the overall visual when plating food too.
When it comes to size you need to find a comfortable balance. Too large and the food will look skimpy. Too small and it will feel crowded.
If you’re new to plating and styling food, it’s easiest to keep it simple with plates that are white, ivory or other light shades. This way you can focus on getting confident with positioning different elements, embellishing with sauces or garnishes, and balancing amounts of empty and filled space on your plate.
That said, don’t be afraid to experiment. As you become more comfortable with plating, start playing around with colours and patterns of your dishes. A geometric shape can make even a white plate interesting, and a darker or brightly coloured plate can create striking contrast that elevates the look of your food.
Other Tips & Tricks for Plating Food
Now that you’ve learned the basics, here are a few more tips and tricks for plating food.
- Always plate in odd numbers.
- Use fancy glasses, different shaped plates, wooden serving boards or sauce bowls to add interest
- Give it a quick spritz of oil or water if the food is starting to dry out.
- Mix and match textures.
- Pour broths or sauces over the rest of the soup or stew ingredients right before serving.
- If serving zero calorie or zucchini noodles, twist them into a nice round pile instead of spreading out on the plate or bowl.
- Don’t have a squeeze bottle? Use a plastic bag and snip the tip from a corner. Works great!
- And remember to check out food magazines or other resources for the latest food styling trends. Much like other creative industries, trends come and go fast.
While it sounds like there are a lot of rules to perfect plating, the most important is to be creative and enjoy your meal!
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