People eat with their eyes first, creative and thoughtful plating enhances both the look and taste of your food. Focusing on presentation also allows chefs to showcase their creations and demonstrate to guests that they’re getting their money’s worth. While there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to “correct” plating, there are several important concepts to keep in mind as you prepare and present your restaurant’s delicious culinary creations.

Things to Remember Before You Begin Plating Food

  • You should consider the kind of cuisine you’re serving.
  • To have your ingredients prepared before you begin the actual plating process.
  • Consider portion sizes before you begin plating.
  • Focus on balancing your protein, carbohydrate, and vegetable to create a nutritionally balanced meal.
  • Carefully placed ingredients create art, but presentation should never overshadow taste.


1. Choose the Perfect Plate

Choose the right plate. One way to conceptualize plating is to think of yourself as an artist, the plate as your canvas, and the food as your medium.

Choose the right size plate. Choose your plate wisely by making sure it’s big enough to allow your food to stand out, but small enough that your portions don’t look too small.

Choose a complementary plate color. The color of your plate is also significant. White plates are popular because they create high contrast and provide a neutral background for your colorful creations. Utilize white space by thinking of the rim as your frame, and consider using the rule of thirds to highlight your plate’s focal point(s). When applied to cooking, the rule of thirds prescribes placing the focal point of your dish to either the left or right side of the plate, rather than the center.

Choose the right shaped plate. 

2. Placing Your Ingredients

Plate with a clock in mind. As you begin plating your ingredients, picture the face of a clock. From the diner’s point of view, your protein should be between 3 and 9, your starch or carbohydrate from 9 and 12, and your vegetable from 12 and 3.

Use moist ingredients as your base. Another rule of thumb is to plate moist or runny ingredients first, as they tend to move during delivery if they aren’t held down by other foods. One way to anchor runny ingredients is by placing other foods on top of them.

Serve odd amounts of food. If you’re serving small foods like shrimp, scallops, or bite-sized appetizers, always give guests odd quantities. Serving 7 brussels sprouts instead of 6 creates more visual appeal, and diners will also perceive that they’re getting more food.

Don’t overcrowd your plate. Be sure to never overcrowd your canvas, and keep it simple by focusing on one ingredient – usually the protein. Finding a focal point also ensures that the accompanying ingredients will play a complementary, supporting role.

3. Pay Attention to the Details

Think about color and contrast. One of the best-kept secrets to beautiful plating is paying close attention to the details. While your focus will obviously be on the protein, considering how the other elements of the plate create color and contrast is also very important.

You can create a beautiful background for your plate by adding green vegetables or brightly colored fruits as accent points. Similarly, try to pair ingredients with complementary colors as this will further enhance your dish’s visual appeal.

Create height on your plate. Another way to catch your guests’ eyes is to utilize the power of height. Creating a tall plate can go a long way towards enhancing visual appeal.You can also balance out taller ingredients by leaning long, flat items against them. It will provide much better 3D effect

Use texture to enhance your dish. Finally, don’t forget about texture. Contrasting a smooth vegetable puree with crunchy onion straws or topping a steak with crumbled blue cheese creates appealing texture combinations that are classic in high-end cuisine.

4. Create design with Sauces

Once you’ve plated your main ingredients, don’t just pour the sauce carelessly all over the plate, though. Instead, think of your squeeze bottle or spoon as a paintbrush, and you can make dots, droplets, lines, swoosh (pulls), pools, foam etc.

5. Use Garnishes Purposefully

Choose edible garnishes. As you finish plating, remember that garnishes must be related to the dish and should always be edible. Ultimately, they’re designed to enhance and complement the flavors of the entree you’ve created, not distract from them. Garnishes can be herbs, vegetable carvings, micro greens, edible flowers etc

Place garnishes purposefully. Place the garnish thoughtfully in order to add color or texture. Also, avoid using unappetizing garnishes like raw herbs, large chunks of citrus, and anything with a strong odour. Lastly, make sure your garnishes are quick and easy to apply, so food still goes out piping hot.


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