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How to Present Food on a Plate

Aside from actually learning how to cook and prepare specific types of dishes, perhaps the most critical thing to master is presentation.  Let’s face it, in many cases, the manner in which the food is presented is vitally important and might mean the difference between having someone really enjoy their meal or merely think it was “okay”.   This handy little guide will help you learn how to “put your best foot dish” forward.

It all starts with the right dish, cutlery or place setting.  More often than not, a plain white dish that features an elegant or interesting design / shape is going to be the best immediate choice.  However, depending on what type of food you are serving (not to mention the colors that the dish itself contains) a more colorful ensemble might be in order.  One should also keep “space” in mind, you don’t want your food to look to cramped or cluttered, yet if it’s too “wide open” people might think that their portions were actually smaller than they were supposed to be.

When it comes to dishes that feature heavy or copious amounts of sauces, it’s probably a good idea to consider presenting these liquids in a separate dish.  If, for example, you were presenting a nice Tikki Masala Indian dish, you would probably want your meat and sauce in its own dish and any other complimentary sides, such as rice, separated.  Similarly, when you’re presenting an Asian dinner which features many separate dishes / options, it’s best to carefully choose what to put each selection in and place them all on the table so that guests can pick, choose and share at their whim (as is customary in the East).  Conversely, if you’re going to be creating individual plates and have something that is fairly “messy” to work with (or perhaps a soup) you can use staple foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta to create order.

Aside from remembering to stay current in your knowledge of food preparation techniques and methods, one should also consider the manner in which they actually cut their ingredients.  For instance, if you really want to make your presentation sparkle, you absolutely must devote some time toward making sure that your vegetables are properly cut.  Although there is not technical reason as to why food that’s been properly cut is more appetizing than that which hasn’t the truth remains, people want uniformity.  In fact, if you’re not cutting your veggies in such a way as to make them more easily consumed or digested, then you’re really doing a disservice to your dishes, not to mention the people you’re serving.

Next, always carefully consider how to position your main entree.  Most of the time this will mean placing it in the dead center of the dish, but not always.  Take the time to check out some simple garnish ideas.   Traditionally, this might mean a bit of parsley, a decoratively cut carrot or a flower, regardless of your chosen garnish, remember that it’s only meant to enhance the look of the dish, not assume center stage.

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