Does food plating and presentation matter?
In the age of Instagrammers and food bloggers, food plating and presentation matters more than ever. We “eat” in more ways than one. And before we even eat it with our mouth, we eat it with our eyes. First impressions are everything! Agree or not, but we all judge our food from its visual appeal before we taste it.
But unfortunately, plating and presentation are generally overlooked during rush hours. You end up being either too busy focusing on food or serving that food presentation becomes a far away afterthought.
Don’t worry you don’t need an advanced art degree or something to do it right. Just follow these easy-to-apply tips, tricks, and techniques and start experimenting with different ways to improve your food presentation.
The top food presentation and plating techniques for your restaurant
1. Match your restaurant theme
Your restaurant theme should be directly reflected in the way you plate your food. Everything from the presentation on the plate to the dish it’s served on matters.
For instance; If you own a small ethnic restaurant, your customers will expect a simple, rustic, and hearty food presentation. However, at a high-end pricey, and trendy restaurant, your guests will expect some level of delicacy in your dish presentation.
2. Choose the right plate
The plate serves as the canvas for your food. Choose the right plate with the right color, height, width, and shape. If you are new to this concept, it’s best to keep it simple with white, ivory, or light shades of tableware.
With such plates and tableware, you have to worry less about clashing colors and can experiment more with garnishing and positioning of food.
Additionally, keep an eye out for cracked or broken tableware – it can be a turn-off to customers and dangerous to eat from. Conduct regular checks to replace or repair damaged tableware.
3. Create height
A lot of dimensions are added to your plate by layering and stacking the food. It’s a good rule of thumb to have three different heights when plating food. It helps to fill up space and make food appear larger (without actually increasing the portion size).
“ It’s important that you don’t separate the food trying to fill the plate—build from the bottom up ”Daniel England, corporate chef with San Diego’s OMG Hospitality Group
To begin, try using a ring mold to start with the base. Simply pack some food in the mold and gently lift it up. Now you have a base to build on.
4. Play with texture
Using textures is a great way to scale up your presentation game. Texture affects both the appearance of the food and how it feels in our mouths.
The surface of the food will either reflect light or absorb it, making some foods glossy and others matte. Some foods have highly textured exteriors, while others have very smooth exteriors. Too much of the same texture makes the food look flat and unexciting.
Try playing with textures, foams, and sauces to make the dish look more interesting. It helps to add depth and dimension to your dish.
5. Use contrasting colours
Colors can add a lot of energy, life, and drama to your dish. Remember that people associate color with emotions and feelings. Golds, maroons, and browns are comforting, rich, and warm; greens are vital and fresh; reds and oranges are powerful and intense.
If you want to give more of a harmonious effect go for Analogous colors instead of contrasting colors. These are the colors that touch each other on the color wheel and together, they look aesthetically pleasing and produce a calming effect, as opposed to the intensity of complementary colors.
If you’re looking for something that is outstanding and eye-catching, play with complementary colors; that is, colors that are on the opposite side of the color wheel (i.e. red and green, orange and blue, yellow and purple).
6. Serve smaller portion sizes
Everything should be in moderation, also the portion size. If your plate is already maxed out with food, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the presentation. Usually, smaller portions are more attractive and easy to style.
According to the National Restaurant Association, serving smaller portion sizes is one of the top five most restaurant trends in 2019!
But it’s also important to make sure that your guests don’t leave the restaurant hungry, there can be nothing worse than this. So a balance has to be struck. You have to experiment and find a balance between a dish that fills them up and a food presentation that wows.
Portion sizes can vary depending on the type of restaurant you are running. Mostly in fine-dine restaurants, diners aren’t expecting huge portions allowing you the liberty to be more creative with plating & presentation.
Pro tip: To avoid overcrowding, limit the number of elements on each dish to no more than six.
7. Use edible garnishes and decorations
If the food presentation looks good, our brains believe it will taste good too and it ultimately influences our entire experience too.
Garnishes should be edible yet something that enhances the overall appeal of your dish- no server wants to tell a guest that something on their plate isn’t edible. Along with the presentation, garnish can also be done to add color, interest, taste, and texture to the dish. Garnish can include fresh herbs like basil, mint, coriander, spice, or even an edible flower, sauces, creams, and citrus zest.
It may appear simple but the right garnish requires a lot of precision. You shouldn’t overdo it. Too much of any garnish might overpower the taste. It should originally be placed with an intention of elevating the dish’s taste first, and then the way it looks.
8. Use the right tool to serve
Using the right tool while plating your food can be a game-changer. So much effort is put into perfecting the dish, the right plating tools should be used to match the hard work and attention to detail.
Some basic yet very essential plating tools are:
- Precision Spoons: Evenly distribute sauces and other types of liquid food on the plate using these spoons. They are one-of-a-kind and have a much deeper well, giving you more control when pouring.
- Squeeze Bottles: They provide more control over the amount of sauces and liquids you want to use to create designs on plate. They are excellent if you want to create swirls, dots, and many other patterns.
- Decorating Brushes: Channel your inner artist while plating. Brushes allow you to add much more unique texture and other small details to your plates.
- Molds: Use molds to serve food in precise shapes such as squares, circles, ovals, or hearts.
In conclusion, improving a dish’s presentation adds value to the dining experience and allows for a higher mark-up on your food. There are no hard and fast rules to do it correctly, you just need to keep in mind some of these important food plating and presentation techniques.