Garnishes and Plate Presentation
Most people agree that we eat with our eyes, not just our stomach. The human appetite is strongly influenced by appearances, and for that reason, presentation of food is of extreme importance. Plating food in restaurants, in hospitals, and at home requires thought and attention. It is the presentation that offers the final touches—time, energy, and effort put into making foods that people will enjoy. These tips for making garnishes and plating foods may give you some new ideas.
Leave one third of the plate empty
Empty space helps to show off each part of the meal and showcases the food. Food that is overflowing from a plate may seem overwhelming, especially to children or individuals dealing with appetite-related issues, such as nausea or anorexia.
Avoid foods of the same shape
Foods are most appealing when there is contrast. A meal of ravioli, sliced kielbasa, and zucchini rounds may seem less appealing to the eyes than a meal of ziti, meatballs, and broccoli.
Choose foods with different textures
Make sure there is a good variety of foods—crunchy, smooth, chewy, and firm. A meal of mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and potpie may have less eye appeal than roasted potatoes, sautéed spinach, and grilled chicken.
Change the arrangement of foods
If meals are generally prepared flat on the plate, consider a vertical arrangement. Stack piles of rice, potatoes, or grains by using molds or unusual scoops that do not get pressed down. Layer a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad into a tower, rather than around a plate or make vegetables interesting with the use of strategic placement to support an upward pile.
Use herbs, spices, and sauces
If the meal calls for a certain herb, use extra to decorate the plate. Choose a strategic sprig of basil to make a plate greener or sprinkle dried herbs around the edge of a plate for added effect. Place sauces and reductions in a ketchup bottle and use to make designs, patterns, or finishes to any plated food.
Keep it simple
Simple is best. Avoid going over the top with ornate garnishes and touches. Partially slicing and fanning strawberries or fruit is simple and makes a healthful statement. Choose a theme toothpick for holidays (think American flag for the Fourth of July), edible flowers, or a touch of color to whipped cream. Sometimes saving the “decoration” for the tabletop in the form of centerpieces, utensil settings, or tablecloths highlights the food the best.
Check for clean edges
Take an extra moment to make sure all drips, spills, or mess are wiped from the plate. Keep the edges of each dinner plate clear of all food items. A damp cloth is best for correcting these types of issues.
Review date 8/09