When it comes to the sensory elements of a dining experience, visual appeal has traditionally been one of the most important, and it’s even more so now. The increased use of social media in the foodservice industry means that more people are taking and viewing pictures of food.
With this in mind, chefs and operators are putting extra effort into plating techniques, using a range of approaches to emphasize different elements of the meal. There are many ways to create a memorable presentation, from the type of dish used for serving the food to experimentation with space and color.
It’s important to pay attention to the amount of the food ordered and pick an appropriately sized plate or other container so everything fits with enough room around it to catch the diner’s eye. Placing an entrée off to the side or angling the food in interesting ways can be a good way to attract notice.
Add an unexpected twist to a menu item by going beyond plates and bowls. Assembling this Baja Turkey Salad Wrap in a cone stand displays the ingredients—including turkey breast, salad and salsa—instead of wrapping them up in an enclosed tortilla.
Plating methods can also help play up a theme, whether it’s specific to one offering or applies to the operation as a whole. Bringing this Turkey Flatbread Pizetta to the table on a serving board gives it a fresh-out-of-the-pizza-oven feel, which could work well at a pizzeria or other Italian eatery.
Toppings can bring in new colors, textures and flavors that pair well with the main ingredients. When showcasing color variety, consider using white dishes to set up an even starker contrast. The open-faced arrangement of these Mediterranean Turkey Tempters highlights the varied palette of sliced black Russian bread, turkey breast, figs, peach and more.
As important as presentation is for chefs and operators, they should not prioritize the appearance of food more than the taste. Inedible components of a meal, no matter how good they look, could detract from a patron’s enjoyment of it.
Podhaizer, Suzanne. Chefs Speak to the Art of Plating Food, Seven Days, April 2017.
A Basic Guide to Food Presentation, WebstaurantStore, December 2017.
The art of plating, Denni’s Catering, May 2016.
Jackson, Lisa. 10 Unique Ways These Restaurants Serve Food, Food Network Canada, December 2016.