How to plate food like a pro
Have you ever sat before a plate of food that looked so irresistible and exquisite, you had to prevent and audibly admire it before plunging in together with your fork? Perhaps it had been a surprisingly photogenic grain bowl reception or a gleaming swirl of pasta at a restaurant. Why does food look so stunning from time to time, but not at others? How does one get food that tempts you to sneak your phone out for a photograph at the table? The secrets of plating and presentation aren’t just fussy dressing for stylists and chefs. The last flourish of presentation is so satisfying, so happiness-inducing, we’ve to share this as a part of your education as a cook. With some simple techniques, you can also put together plates that look as marvelous as they taste.
Is how to plate food beautifully important for a home cook?
- Today’s Lesson: Plating and Presentation
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Hold up. So, you don’t post food on Instagram, you’d never pull out your phone at a restaurant, and, honestly, plating and presentation sound so fussy. Come on; is that this important? Yes, it’s, although 90 percent of the time, presentation isn’t an enormous deal. After all, you merely have most time within the day, and it’s way more important that dinner is filling, tasty, and healthy. But getting a plate or a platter well-to-do has its place. There’s a reason restaurants and food publications (like us) put time and care into it: Food is tastier when it’s delicious.
Even if you don’t work on a restaurant or for a food magazine, there’ll be times when making your dishes look good is vital — when hosting a banquet, when trying to impress a date, or perhaps once you want to zhuzh up a dish you made to point out off on Instagram. You don’t need fancy equipment or highly technical skills to accomplish this (no, we’re not recommending squeeze bottles or tweezers, sorry!). There are some principles and techniques anyone can learn to form their dishes look as utterly delicious as they taste.
How to plate food like a chef
4 Rules for creating Food Look Beautiful
There are four rules for plating and plattering food to seem its best. These are the rules to internalize; great cooks usually just do these automatically when serving up dinner.
1. Opt-in a neutral dish, not very big or very small.
High-end restaurants put time and thought into the plates they use, and professional photo studios keep dozens, if not hundreds, of various plates, silverware, napkins, and glasses available to fulfill a range of various situations. this can be totally not reality or desirable for a home cook, of course. most of the people have one, maybe two, sets of plates.
Here’s a way to make the dishes and serving pieces you have already got work for the food, not against it. (Many of those tips and rules apply both to plated food and to platters and even casserole dishes, since often home cooks are serving family-style, not plated.)
- Put food on plates (or platters) that make the food feel abundant, but leave a bit room between the edge and therefore the food. If the plate is simply too big, the food will feel lost. If the plate’s too small, it’ll look overstuffed. Therefore, choose a plate (and an amount of food) that creates the dish feel generous, but leave the lip still visible. Plates should have some room around the edges. Bowls should look filled, with food slightly more mounded up When filling a platter up, follow the form of the dish as you set the food, and leave a minimum of 1 / 4 to a 3rd of the plate’s volume empty round the edges.
- Opt for white plates. If you scroll through our Instagram feed (or that of nearly any food media), you’ll notice most of the plates are either white, or mostly white — and therefore, the rest tend to be natural, gentle colors like pastel blue or charcoal. This can be because bold, bright colors compete with the food (restaurants know this!). You can’t fail with white, or off-white colors.
- Choose curved plates and platters. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but it’s often easier to form food look good on rounded plates and platters vs. square or rectangular.
Need to source new plates? If you’re watching a collection of bright-red, square plates in your cupboard and thinking you wish something new, and honest place to seem is your local thrift store. It’s often easy to search out beautiful, simple plates there without having to speculate lots in them.
2. Place the food to suggest abundance.
When considering between what’s pretty and what’s tasty, tasty should win out when. After all, the purpose is to create people who want to eat. Luckily, those two things aren’t often at odds. Food is commonly prettiest when it’s most delicious and appears full and abundant — at peak freshness and cooked well. People respond to bright green herbs, caramelized browning and fresh, ripe colors. Here are some tips to create the dish look even better (and tastier).
- Pile food up, instead of spreading it out. If you’re serving a pair of slices of meatloaf, as an example, place one partly on top of the opposite. This helps provides a sense of abundance.
- Follow the rule of three. You don’t want everything to seem perfectly even, so it helps to incorporate some odd-numbered items. this might mean setting a protein next to 2 sides, piling three pancakes onto a plate, or only putting the crème fraîche on one piece of dish, rather than both, as pictured further down within the post.
- Leave room around the edges. Negative space applies here even as it does within the art world. Leaving room around the food helps draw attention to the particular food.
- Don’t crowd. Similarly, don’t crowd food onto the plate. Leaving a touch space helps add context.
3. Wipe the splatter off the rim.
This is one in all the only and most easily neglected ways to create a platter, plate or maybe casserole dish of food that look more decent. After putting the food on the dish, but before garnishing, give the edges of the particular plate or dish a swipe with a clean tea towel or cloth, just to wipe off any fingerprints or food smudges.
If there’s something stuck on the plate, don’t bust out the soap! a light solution of white vinegar and water will help, but go easy — you don’t want the plate to smell vinegary.
4. Garnish! (It’s about romance, not parsley.)
What is a garnish? It’s a final touch, a touch swipe of shiny butter or a green shimmer of pesto to grant a dish a little extra pop of romance. It’s woo-woo but true: The garnish is that the little sparkle of affection, like putting on lipstick or straightening your collar before a date together with your adored partner. You don’t must copulate — you’re committed and visiting have a good time regardless — but the garnish, the last peek within the mirror, shows that you’re excited about this encounter. You care. you decide on to feature slightly of romance.
So any dish you like and need to romance can and may be garnished. This goes double (triple!) for family-style food that may otherwise look a touch heavy — the enchilada casserole (hit it with some fresh cheddar and cilantro!), the radically simple egg casserole (drizzle on some olive oil!), the platter of rotisserie chicken from the grocery (girl, that’s what pesto is FOR). the times when every single plate had a pile of curly parsley and a bed of lettuce are gone, but garnishes are eternal to food.
A good garnish is often edible and is commonly low-key. A garnish will be as simple as some chopped herbs, a dollop of soured cream, or perhaps some coarsely ground pepper or flaky salt. Simply give some thought to what would offer slightly of contrasting color, flavor, or texture. the simplest garnishes are ingredients that are already within the dish (for example, celery leaves could garnish stuffing that has celery in it; lemon peel could garnish a lemon bar). But as long because it adds a delicious flavor, it’ll work. ply the food, give the rim of the plate a fast wipe, then add garnish to create everything look pretty.
Contrast, contrast, contrast. The key to creating most dishes look just a touch better, pretty enough to draw an instant of admiration, is contrast. White chicken and dumplings? Pop some pepper on. Creamy risotto with butternut squash? Contrast color and texture with a couple of chopped green pistachios.
But within the end, anything near hand and natural can give that last pop of contrast and romance. you’ll never get it wrong with a drizzle of vegetable oil to feature a perky shine, black pepper for drama, or a sprinkle of that five-dollar marvel, Maldon flaky salt. (If you don’t have this in your cupboard, why not? Five dollars! Amazon it! We’re gonna ask you tomorrow if you probably did this yet!) And again, as most folks aren’t actually plating up food to serve nightly, this all applies by all odds to a full dish of food further.
If You Learn Only 1 Thing Today …
If you are doing nothing else, when serving food where you wish to create an honest impression, confirm there’s space around the fringe of the plate or platter and provides the rim a wipe-down with a clean cloth. This very simple gesture — possibly not even consciously noticed by your guests — can transform a plate of food into something just slightly more elegant, and ought to have the presentation.
What You Don’t Must Know
You mustn’t understand how to create things look perfect. Perfect is the enemy. Don’t spend lots of your time fussing over your dishes. You don’t want your food to seem overly precious, or prefer it was methodically arranged on a platter. you furthermore may don’t want to spend the time methodically arranging food on the platter! Otherwise, it’ll get cold, and can not be as delicious. If it’s taking you over some moments, then you’re taking too long.
How the Pros Get Mouthwatering Photos
When you aren’t just serving the food, but want to require an image of it yet, there are some more belongings you can do to induce a #nofilter photo that appears as delicious because the dish does in the real world. Here are some tips about getting that social-ready shot.
Find some natural light.
The best place to require a photograph of a well-made dish isn’t necessarily on your counter or dining room table: It’s wherever you’ll be able to set the plate near a window. this can be because natural light — which is to mention light from the sun, as critical from an overhead lightbulb or lamp — incorporates a much wider range than standard household light bulbs, which tend to create photos skew a bit yellow or a bit blue. you’ll be able to invest in special wide-spectrum lights to assist mimic the texture of natural light — this can be what studios do so that they don’t should depend upon the weather to induce good shots. But unless you’re taking photos all the time, the most affordable and easiest solution is to merely find a window.
But avoid direct light.
In general, however, you wish to avoid putting your food directly into sunlight. this can cause harsh shadows, which you don’t want. If the sun is pouring all the way through the window you’re using, try pulling the curtains or holding up a translucent white cloth between the food and therefore, the light – it works better when the white napkin works is used for this. It’ll give just a bit of shade, and even the sunshine out.
Upgrade your garnishes.
When making something specifically to impress, the garnish is extra important. you’ll be able to pre-chop garnishes, so you don’t need to spend lots of your time cutting things while your food is prepared and waiting. Chopped herbs are kept covered with a humid towel within the fridge. If you’re using garnishes that are likely to oxidize (radishes, apple slices, avocado) you’ll be able to just submerge them in water.
If the herbs you have got a readily available look a touch wilted, give them a dunk in drinking water before chopping — they’ll perk right copy. (Just dry them off well.) If you’re garnishing with salt and pepper, you would like big, visible chunks. a pleasant mill set to coarse will work — and grain of flaky sea salt (like Maldon) will look best. And if you would like to deliver a fine stream of a condiment or sauce, a plastic squeeze bottle will offer you lots more precision.
Dissect what your favorite Instagrammers do.
Of course, one amongst the most effective ways to begin taking great photos is to follow accounts that post photos you actually love. and so hunt for a photograph that basically stands resolute you, but don’t just casually double-tap the center and scroll on Take a flash to seem at the weather, and select what you prefer. (You can just follow our 15-minute assignment, below!) the subsequent time you’re taking a photograph, you’ll be able to attempt to incorporate those elements into your shot.
Our Favorite Gear
We have recommendations for basic gear on our equipment checklist, but here are some more tools specifically for vegetables which will save time, and frustration.
- A nice mill set to coarse for garnishing with pepper.
- A plastic squeeze bottle for adding sauces.
- If you’re looking to update plateware, both Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table are great places to begin.
What It Takes to Be Your Own Food’s Food Stylist
Even a tiny low amount of attention to the way food is plated and garnished can go an extended way toward making things look rather more beautiful. As we said above, it’s not something that, 90% of the time, is even necessary to try to. But having the flexibility to decorate a supply is a simple thanks to wow family and guests, and a fun thanks to elevating even an easy meal.