In addition to the plating tips covered in Lesson 3: Food Preparation, you may derive some benefit from the following tips:
Keep it Simple & Quick: You want attractive dishes , but not overwhelming or silly ones. Unless you have many chefs helping out, you will need to arrange the food on the plate quickly to serve hot foods hot.
Clock Out:. The conventional "smiley face" with foods at ten o'clock, two o'clock, and six o'clock is a good fallback position.
Focus: What is the focal point of your dish? Often it is the protein of the meal. Arrange the rest of your plate to focus the eye on that focal point.
Showcase the Main Attraction: Save the place of honor at the front of the plate for the most attractive and appealing food. Showcase it by elevating it, for example, by leaning it against the starch.
Be Saucy: Spoon sauce under the main attraction to highlight it and not hide it. With meats, sauce below allows the meat's crust to stay crisp while framing it with a contrasting color and shape. Direct the eye with decorative use of sauce.
Work Out from the Center: Begin arranging food from the center of the plate and build outward. This improves appearance, keeps the rim clear and also helps prevent thumbs or fingers from getting into the food.
Give the Plate Height: Add height to the plate. Mounding potatoes, rice or other starch at the back of the plate lends height and a convenient place to lean other vegetables or meat. Generally, begin low at the front of the plate and grow taller as you approach. And mound does not mean mountain.
Brighten with Color: Think about the colors on your plate. If your food is basically brown or white, use colorful garnishes to brighten up the plate. Sprigs of fresh dill or fennel, vibrant fruit, a sprinkling of toasted seeds, or a small jalapeno pepper are just some ideas of how to employ color. Your ultimate choice should also suit the flavor and cuisine of your dish.
Put Food on Plates: Everything on the plate should be edible and palatable. Don’t garnish with a sage bush, or an unshelled walnut unless you have shears or a nut cracker as utensils. If you pull it off, it can be part of the fun but pulling it off is hard. We’d avoid the extremes without a very good reason.
Plan it: If you are going to get elaborate, consider planning out your plate and presentation. Sketch it to help you visualize the completed plate. Prepare a “practice” plate to help illustrate the final choices.
Serve it to Plan: If you go to the trouble and thought of designing your plates make sure they are presented properly. If you are going to have some help, explain the presentation and positioning so your hard work pays off and makes it the final yards. Don’t sell yourself short. Communicate.