Dish presentation: here are some trends and tips
If you aspire to be the Rembrandt of the culinary world but struggle to make your dishes look like works of art, then read this blog for trends and tips on dish presentation.
Looking back at the last century of gastronomy, you will recognise a number of styles in dish presentation. It's similar to fashion: one trendsetter starts a movement, and the rest follows. An example of a plating style is the ‘classical presentation’ of placing the elements of the dish on specific parts of the plate. A past trend was to serve dishes in glasses, whereas another trend saw food served on slate. To this day, Instagram is awash with images of colourful dishes packed with flowers and cress. Other trends are also becoming apparent. Nature is being used as a source of inspiration for people creating landscape on plates. Another new development is the monochrome style of plating, where only one colour is used. The free form style is also gaining traction. This is also referred to as ‘modern painting’, as it's an outlet where chefs can let their creativity run wild.
- Landscape: Based on images of natural beauty. Examples include using sweet or savoury crumbles to represent the ‘earth’.
- Monochrome: A single colour or line of colour serves as inspiration. This technique is a true challenge, as chefs must find the right components both for taste and colour.
- Free form: This style stands out because moulds and templates cannot be used to help ‘design’ how the ingredients are put on the plate. The colours and shapes of the dish are created spontaneously and at the discretion of the chef. There is no consistent style or theme between plates; each dish may look completely different.
Chefs use plates in the same way that artists use canvases. This leads to the first stress of choosing, namely which plate to use to ensure your dish looks its best. The colour and shape of your plate are of the utmost importance. Consider, for example, black, white, or brown plates that are round, square, or oblong. The choice of plate may depend on the colours and shapes of the components that you want to showcase. Tip 1: round components are better complemented by a round plate, whereas angular components look better on a square or oblong plate. Using similar shapes is aesthetically pleasing. Another important factor is size. Tip 2: Adapt the size of the plate to the dish you plan to serve. Mismatching the size of the plate to the amount of food served wrong is less aesthetically pleasing. Tip 3: match the cutlery to the shape of plate. While bowls and deep plates look lovely, they can be inconvenient when you are expected to use a knife and fork. If you want to present your dish in a bowl, make sure the components don't need to be cut by the guest. A white, flat plate is a fine choice as a way to present many dishes.
Creative use of shapes
There are many tools available to chefs in the kitchen to ensure that they can more easily plate their dishes the way they want, even when serving large groups of customers. The most well-known examples include spoons and squeeze bottles. Creative use of other objects can also provide very interesting results. For example, glue spreaders can be used to showcase sauces or crèmes in new and interesting ways. Another example would be using a glass to shape a crème into a type of leaf.
- Spoon: One of the most frequently used utensils to shape a crème or purée. Scoop the crème onto the plate and use the spoon to pull the crème towards you over the surface of the plate in one smooth movement.
- Squeeze bottle: For an easy way to shape cold or warm crèmes and mousses.
- Glue spreader: Draw a line of the crème onto a plate and use the glue spreader (available at DIY shops) to draw the crème into streaks.
- Glass: Spoon or squeeze some crème or mousse onto a
plate and press the underside of a glass onto it to create
an abstract structure.
Inspiration provided by top chefs
Would you like some inspiration on how to best present the dishes you cook? Are you interested in seeing how other chefs, some famous the world over, present their compositions? Then look through the archive of compositions from recent years. Sign up for an annual or monthly membership to view the entire archive!
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