When world-famous chefs plate their masterpieces on television they make it look easy, so people don’t realize how difficult it actually is to put food on the plate in an attractive, appealing way. It’s somewhat easy to copy a more experienced chef’s style, but most new chefs really want to have their own unique plating style to represent their food.  Just as an artist signs his work of art, so do chefs add a signature to their stunning plates of food through their plating techniques.

Mastering food plating doesn’t come without knowledge and practice and the Institute of Culinary Education has produced some videos that can help. Let’s take a look at what these five videos have to offer.

1. Essential Elements of Plating

In the first video, Essential Elements of Plating, Michael Laiskonis, who is the creative director of the ICE, talks about presenting food as a creative means of expression. He discusses four important presentation elements: composition, balance, shape and texture and gives tips for each of these elements.

Composition tips:

  • use an asymmetrical food arrangement on the plate
  • arrange items in odd numbers
  • use complementary colors

Balance tips:

  • change the focus of the dish, moving away from the expected
  • leave negative space on the plate
  • choose a plate that will creatively showcase the ingredients

Shape tips:

  • create a theme using similar shapes
  • less is more
  • keep it simple and refined

Texture tips:

  • combine different textures: crunchy, creamy, chewy, etc.
  • include contrasting temperatures
  • use a plate that allows elements to intermingle

2. Plating Reimagined

The second video, Plating Reimagined: One Entrée. Three Ways, presented by James Briscione who shows viewers how to present an entrée of duck accompanied by beets, squash, mushrooms, pearl onions and micro-greens in three different ways.

  • The Classic Approach, in which the chef plates the entrée in the center of the plate in a circular fashion
  • The New Nordic Approach which is asymmetrical. In this style, plate the entrée only on one half of the plate, the other half is clean
  • The Linear Approach, or simply, line it up. The chef plates the food across the center of the plate in a line

3. Five Must-Have Plating Tools

Five Must-Have Plating Tools is the third video, also presented by James Briscione who is the Director of Culinary Development at ICE. In the video he shows viewers what his five essential tools are and how to use them to turn simple dishes into visually inspiring and exciting dishes.

  • A large metal spoon for placing large objects on the plate and for dropping sauces and purees as well as creating a spread of puree
  • A small offset spatula for fine placement of smaller things and for spreading purees with the edge of the spatula to create a wider, more dramatic look
  • A squeeze bottle for a more controlled application of thicker sauces and purees
  • A ring mold for either punching out shapes or for stacking food to create height on the plate
  • Tweezers for fine tuning and delicate placement
  • James’ bonus tool is a kitchen towel which is for cleaning the edges of plates from smudges or fingerprints

4. Plating Reimagined: One Dessert. Three Ways.

In the fourth video, Plating Reimagined: One Dessert. Three Ways, Michael Laiskonis uses passion fruit, almonds, cocoa and sugar as his base flavors to create chocolate cake three ways and shows viewers three different plating techniques.

  • The Classic Approach, chocolate-passion Entremet. He assembles the prepared ingredients in a large ring mold, freezes it, covers it with chocolate and places it in the center of a round plate
  • The Contemporary Approach, chocolate-passion Verrine. The chef pours all the prepared ingredients, which are in semi-liquid form, in layers into a glass
  • The Nouveau Approach, chocolate-passion a la mode. The chef places prepared ingredients in a bowl, off-center, in odd-numbered groups

5. Tips for Buying Restaurant Dinnerware

In the final video, Tips for Buying Restaurant Dinnerware, Kate Edwards from ICE, explains how dinnerware acts as a bridge that connects the food, service and ambiance with the guest. She has excellent tips and tricks to follow in order to make the best choices when it comes to buying restaurant dinnerware.

Mastering food plating may seem daunting, but with practice and knowledge it is very possible to learn how to put your personal signature on your amazing plate of food.

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