Module 8: Plating & Presentation
Now that you know the basics and essentials of plating and presentation, here are 5 good recommendations to consider.
1. Classical plating
Also known as traditional plating, classical plating has 3 basic food items on a plate. A guide to classical plating is to use the hands of the clock as a reference. Vegetables should be in the 12-3 section of the clock face, starches in 12-3 and the mains should occupy the 3-9 section.
2. Cutting, moulding & shaping
Carefully cut and moulded food can increase the visual appeal of a dish if properly done. It is a method of decorating that requires skill, precision and finesse and when done well, can bring a plate to life. These are the two main schools of cutting and decorating:
- Western cuisine – The highlight is mainly on using cutting tools to add height to their dish or create thinly sliced meat and ingredients.
- Asian cuisine – The focus here is on having edible garnishes like fruits and vegetables carved and cut intricately as decoration.
Tools for cutting, moulding and shaping
Here are the common tools used:
- Peeling knife – To peel, trim and clean produce. Also used to make decorative cuts.
- Fluted knife – To make wavy decorative cuts.
- Vegetable peeler – To peel and core produce.
- Melon baller – To scoop out balls or half balls from melons, carrots, cucumber, pumpkin and butter.
- Round cutters – To make circular decorative cuts.
- Egg slicer – To divide the eggs
- Pastry bag – Different tips for different decorations for icings, creams and butter mixtures.
- Metal spatula – To mould icings and sauces.
3. Application of sauce in plating
Aside from creating an additional layer of flavour and depth, sauces are also used for decorative purposes. They act as a visual element that ties all the other elements together. Here are a few tips on incorporating sauces to your plate:
- Lightly pour or drizzle on the plate, over or underneath the dish.
- Create dots on the side of the plate or as a feature on one side of the plate.
- Draw lines that run through the different elements of the dish to unify them visually.
Often used to perk up or highlight the colour of the main dish, garnishing is putting the final touches in a dish. The garnish should always match the ingredients and flavour of the dish and enhance instead of overpower the dish. Here are a few guidelines on garnishing:
- Refrain from heaping garnishing on one corner of the plate.
- Cut ingredients in small portions and allocate the correct amount.
- Provide colours and shapes by arranging the garnishes around the main dish.
- Never drown the main dish in garnishing.
- Keep the garnishing simple, edible and complementary.
- Do not spend too much time on garnish and risk serving cold food.
5. Plating in large quantities
Plating a large number of dishes is usually done using the assembly method – where there are 4 people at each station assigned to put a specific item on the plate until the dish is assembled. These establishments usually have warmers or hot holding cabinets used to hold food plated in advance, until serving time. Before serving, kitchen staff should remove plated food and complete it with a sauce and garnish.
Plating with chafing dishes or platters
Quantity plating normally involves arranging and serving food in chafing dishes and platters like in a buffet. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid carryover cooking by refilling food only when needed and stirring sauce in a chafing dish constantly.
- Arrange sliced meat instead of simply placing it on the chafing dish, and add garnish for contrast.
- Avoid using lettuce or leafy vegetables as garnish as they wilt quickly and make food look unappealing.
- For sauce-heavy dishes, keep the sauce in a separate platter to avoid creating a film on top of the dish.
Congratulations, you’ve completed the 5 Plating Recommendations topic!
Continue on to the next topic, pick a related topic from the Plating & Presentation module, or go back to the Chefmanship Academy modules page.