Getting Creative: Top Ten Plating Ideas
We eat with our eyes before we even take our first
bite of a meal, that's why the art of culinary presentation, or
plating, is so important when you're trying to make a meal special.
Plating like a pro is easier than you might think. Just start
with these 10 easy tricks, and you'll be on your way to a memorable
Use an unexpected vessel. Rather than putting
everything on a plate, consider using shallow bowls for entrees, or
coffee mugs and wine glasses for desserts.
2) Break up the monotony of a
one-level presentation by filling a small bowl with the side dish or
sauce, then setting it directly onto the plate. For example:
When serving chicken and rice, pour the sauce in individual
bowls or ramekins and serve directly on each plate so guests can
top their chicken with sauce.
For stir-frys, serve rice on the side in a small bowl.
3) Deconstruct rather than construct.
Instead of making strawberry shortcake with biscuits, whipped
cream and berries, serve "fingers" of toasted pound cake with
individual bowls of whipped cream and warm strawberries in sauce.
Guests can dunk the cake into the berries and cream as they like.
4) Fresh Bread Ideas. If dinner
calls for bread, consider breadsticks served in a glass, pitcher or
even a vase. Or wrap two fresh-from-the-oven breadsticks in a napkin
and tuck a sprig of fresh rosemary inside. Aside from being pretty,
the rosemary will infuse the warm bread with delicious flavor.
5) Layer your Flavors. Use the side
dish or vegetable as a "bed" for your meat, placing the entree on top
of rice, mashed potatoes, cooked spinach, or even cold salads.
6) Chunk it. Present meat in
different ways. For example:
Dress up chicken breast by cutting it into chunks and
threading onto skewers before cooking.
Instead of slicing roast pork tenderloin into thin slices, cut
thicker chunks. Serve two chunks rather than several slices.
7) Sticky Rice. Rice that's a
little sticky is perfect for shaping. Press it into greased cups,
rings, or molds, then turn out onto serving plates for fun shapes.
8) Pick Pasta. Pasta is always a
great side dish substitute. Instead of opting for a potato- or
rice-based side dish, think pasta.
9) Swap the Sauce. The sauce
doesn't have to be the last thing on the plate - how about putting it
down first? This not only showcases the entree, but it creates visual
contrast between the meat and the sauce.
10) Build it Up. Whenever possible,
create height on the plate. For example:
Spoon sauce down first, then top with a mound of mashed
potatoes. Lean slices of meat against potatoes, then finally, add