Expert Views & Interview

Creating Art With Food To Attract Customers

Creating Art With Food To Attract Customers

By Chef Vinod Bhatti (Treasurer, Indian Culinary Forum)

Food presentation or plating is the art of modifying, arranging, decorating food to enhance its aesthetic appeal. As it is righty said that eyes are the first to feast.

The visual presentation of foods is often considered by chefs at many different stages of food preparation, from the manner of tying or sewing meats, to the type of cut used in chopping and slicing meats or vegetables, to the style of mold used in a poured dish.

The food itself may be decorated as in elaborately iced cakes, topped with ornamental sometimes sculptural consumables, drizzled with sauces, sprinkled with seeds, powders, or other toppings, or it may be accompanied by edible or inedible garnishes. All these efforts that are being done by the chefs to make the food more eye appealing and attractive.

The arrangement and overall styling of food upon bringing it to the plate is termed plating. Chefs show their artistic skills. Some common styles of plating include a 'classic' arrangement of the main item in the front of the plate with vegetables or starches in the back, a 'stacked' arrangement of the various items, or the main item leaning or 'shingled' upon a vegetable bed or side item.

Item location on the plate is often referenced as for the face of a clock, with six o'clock the position closest to the diner. A basic rule of thumb upon plating, and even in some cases prepping, is to make sure you have the 5 components to a dish; protein, traditionally at a 6 o'clock position, vegetable, at a 2 o'clock position, starch at an 11 o'clock position, sauce and garnish.

Food presentation is just as essential to the success of a dish as its taste and flavour. The way the food looks on the plate is what tempts our eyes and makes you want to taste it. Imagine how your room looks when it’s messy and how it looks when you clean it up, the same ingredients, different results. It is just as true with food presentation and how the elements are arranged on the plate.

So yes, food presentation is important. It can make or break a restaurant and it can turn a dinner party into a great success if done right.

What are the components of good food presentation? How do you know what to pay attention to when presenting food to your guests?

  • No matter how delicious a dish may be, if it is served on a dirty plate, you will definitely not be tempted to taste it. Make sure all plates are sparkling clean.
  • Adapt your plate presentation to the occasion. If you are preparing a kids party, choose fun food presentations that will make them want to eat. They prefer “fun” designs rather than serious and traditional presentations.
  • Food presentation is all about timing. There is no point in offering your guests a fancy dish if it is served cold, when it was supposed to be served hot. So spend just enough time plating.
  • Another important rule of food presentation is balancing variety and contrast. It is good to have a variety of textures on the plate, but how these textures are combined is just as important.
  • Garnish or no garnish? That is a crucial question when it comes to food presentation. There are foods that would look uninteresting without garnish. Take any meal , It looks great with the added garnishes that bring a pop of colour to the plate.
  • Matching portion size with plate size is another important aspect of food presentation. A plate that is too small for the food portion it offers will look messy and overcrowded. On the other hand, a small portion on too large a plate will look sparse.
  • Never serve hot foods on cold plates and the other way around. This is another essential rule of food presentation.

Why plating matters in presenting the dish?

Not only did diners who were presented with the artful salad indicate a higher level of tastiness, they also said that they would be willing to pay more for this salad despite the fact that it was comprised of the same ingredients that were in the other preparations. This result isn’t entirely unexpected, however, since an artful plating indicates higher effort was put into the dish. Diners recognize this attention to detail and are willing to pay a premium price for it.

As new student chefs begin developing menus for dinner parties or restaurants, they would do good to remember this study. Making your food look good is just as, if not more, important than making it 
taste good.