A Basic Guide to Food Presentation

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

If you own a foodservice business, you know that food plating and presentation are central to keeping guests happy as they experience your restaurant. However, plating is often overlooked by chefs who are either too busy or more concerned with the taste of their dishes. People eat with their eyes, and 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.

Guidelines for Plating Food

For tips and tricks on how to create a beautiful plate, consider the steps below:

1. Choose the Perfect Plate

Selecting the right plate for your meal is key to attractive food presentation. Here are some things to keep in mind:

how to choose a plate for food presentation

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.

2. Placing Your Ingredients

Here are a few of the most important aspects to consider as you build your dish:

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.

food presentation ideas

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. For example, you can angle sliced meat or vegetables against purees and mashed vegetables.

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.

Place food to create flavor bites. Essentially, flavor bites are forkfuls of food that combine all of the ingredients in your dish into one bite. Creating flavor bites is the perfect accompaniment to creative plating as it pleases both the eye and the taste buds.

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.

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