We’ve all done it while dining out: the server places a perfectly-arranged plate in front of you, but instead of going straight for your fork, you reach for your phone to snap a picture instead. We eat with our eyes, too, which is why plating can truly make a meal.
You don’t need a culinary degree to practice the art of plating at home. Sure, you could just plunk a spoonful of mashed potatoes on top of a chicken breast, but crafting a pretty plate is an easy way to impress your guests (and your followers). Use Chef Lynn Michelle’s plating tips to serve up something beautiful.
- Pick a neutral plate. Professional food photographers may keep dozens, if not hundreds of different plates on hand to complement almost any dish. Because you probably don’t have room in your cupboards for that many options, invest in a classic set of dishes that comes in a neutral color. This will allow the food to stand out against a simple backdrop.
- Follow the rule of three. It’s true: good things really do come in threes – or odd numbers, at least. Try portioning your items in threes or fives. This may mean placing your main dish next to two sides, placing five carrots or broccoli florets on the plate, or stacking three layered items.
- Play with texture. There’s a reason why a chewy steak and light baked potato, or a crispy grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup go together so well. We typically enjoy meals that include a variety of textures. Try mixing and matching differently textured dishes to give your plate some added appeal.
- Think up, not out. The goal is to give the illusion of abundance, even if you don’t place that much food on the plate. Spreading items out may make the meal look sparse, so try stacking things on top of each other as a way to show cohesion and depth. That said…
- …Don’t crowd. While you want to serve an adequate amount of food, too much can make for a messy plate. Leave some blank space around the rim for added contrast and easy eating. Your guests can always go back for seconds!
- Finish with a garnish. A little garnish can go a long way. Fresh herbs can brighten up your meal, and seeds, nuts, and crumbs can add that extra bit of crunch you’ve been missing.
Chef Lynn Michelle is a master at crafting restaurant-quality dishes in home kitchens. She can prepare a week’s worth of meals for your family, so all you have to do is plate a meal which will taste as good as it looks. Give her a call to learn more about her personal chef services.