Now that you know the basics and essentials of food presentation, it’s time to learn unique plating techniques. Here are five factors to consider when learning to plate food with finesse.
Plating & Presentation
5 Plating Techniques You Should Learn
1. Classical plating
Also known as traditional meal presentation, classical plating features three primary food items on a plate. For this technique, you can use the hands of the clock as a reference. Vegetables should be in the 12-3 section of the clock face. Starches are kept around the 9-12 section, while the mains occupy the 3-9 section.
2. Cutting, molding, and shaping
Carefully cut and molded food can increase the visual appeal of any dish. It is a method of decorating that requires skill, precision, and accuracy. And when done well, this technique can give a plate renewed vitality. There are two schools of cutting and decorating:
- Western cuisine – The highlight uses cutting tools to add height to the dish or create thinly sliced meat and ingredients.
- Asian cuisine – The focus is on having edible garnishes like fruits and vegetables carved and cut intricately as decoration.
Plating tools for cutting, molding, and shaping
- 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 and cut eggs
- Pastry bag – Different tips for different decorations for icings, creams, and butter mixtures.
- Metal spatula – To mold icings and sauces.
3. Application of sauce in plating
Aside from creating an additional layer of flavor and depth, you can use sauces for decorative purposes. They act as one of the visual elements of food plating that can tie elements together. Here are some tips for incorporating sauces into your plate:
- Lightly pour or drizzle on the plate over or underneath the dish.
- Create dots or any shape as a feature on one side of the plate.
- Draw lines that run through the dish’s various elements to unify them visually.
Often used to boost or highlight the color of the main dish, garnishing involves putting the final touches on a dish. The garnish should always match the ingredients and flavors. It should always enhance rather than overpower the main ingredients. Here are some plating rules related to garnishing:
- Refrain from heaping garnish on one corner of the plate.
- Cut ingredients into small portions and allocate the correct amount.
- Provide colors and shapes by arranging the garnish around the main dish.
- Never drown the main dish in garnishing.
- Keep the garnish simple, edible, and complementary.
- Do not spend too much time on garnish and risk serving cold food.
5. Plating in large quantities
Plating numerous dishes is done using the assembly method – four people at each station are assigned to put a specific item on the plate. This technique requires warmers or hot holding cabinets to hold the plated food until service. Before serving, the kitchen staff will remove the food and complete it with a sauce and garnish.
Bonus: Plating with chafing dishes or platters
Quantity plating involves arranging and serving food in chafing dishes and platters like in a buffet. What should you typically not do when plating large quantities of food? Follow these tips:
- Avoid carryover cooking by refilling food only when needed and stirring the sauce in a chafing dish constantly.
- Do not randomly place meat in the chafing dish. Instead, arrange the pieces in a symmetrical pattern and add garnish for contrast.
- Do not pour sauces all over the meat. Keep them in separate platters or containers to avoid creating a film on top of the dish. Avoid using lettuce or leafy vegetables as a garnish because they wilt quickly and make food look unappealing.
Ready to take your dishes to a new level? Follow these plating techniques to give any sweet or savory dish new life!
We hope this plating techniques guide has given you some food for thought about how to style your dishes to attract more customers. Our role is to help support you and provide a little inspiration when you need it. Sign up to our newsletter for tips straight to your inbox.
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