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Plating Techniques the Food Pros Use - The Art of Plating Spaghetti

Updated on July 6, 2013

Plating Food Techniques

All the top chefs and restaurants use a technique known as "Plating" to add to the appeal of the entrees and desserts. For most meals at home, the food is merely dumped on the plate with little or no attention paid to appearance. But do not be embarrased by your efforts...you bought the groceries, you cooked the food and you are serving the food. That should be enough! If it helps, all you have to think about is the plastic trays at fast food restuarants or the cardboard box from the pizza place and suddenly your plate of chicken, potatoes and corn looks pretty good. However, we have discovered some of the simplest, easiest and quickest techniques for dressing up your food.

The Simple White Plate
The Simple White Plate | Source

Tip #1 - A Simple White Plate

The first tip is too simple. Using white plates allows the colors of your food to stand out. Think of your plate as an empty palette waiting for the artist (that's you) to come along and paint a beautiful picture. We have chosen white plates with black trim to create a framed look. However, any white design will enhance the look of your meals. Best of all, simple white designs are usually less expensive than artistic dinnerware. Can you say Christmas gift?

Tip #2 - Location, Location, Location

Placing the food on the plate is important to the appearance. Dishes like spaghetti occupy the entire plate but most dishes have separate parts like Chicken, Potatoes and Peas. The most accepted placement is meats are at 2 o'clock, veggies are at 6 o'clock and potatoes at 10 o'clock. However, feel free to change the order on any given night. Also, consider more advanced ideas like "hub and spoke" - where you place the meat in the middle and place the sides around the centerpiece. When it comes to location, no method is wrong. For fun, we often serve multiple placements to different guests but be prepared for some unjustified complaints.

Tip #3 - Distinctive Colors

Peas are green, Chicken is white, Rice might be brown. Position your meal parts according to colors. Try to achieve a contrast of colors. Here is where you may change the menu slightly. Instead of just peas, how about peas and carrots? Instead of just chicken, how about chicken with some melted yellow cheese or maybe try orange peppers mixed in with your rice? The best part of this attention to colors is the health benefits. Are peas AND carrots more healthy? Yes!

Tip #4 - Toppings

Every plate will have a focal point - the spot where your guests eyes look at first. Adding distinctive toppings to this area will create the WOW factor. A sprig of mint or basil, a slice of lemon, or a few black olives will make their eyes open. And what did it cost you? 1 minute. Consider drizzling sauces on your potatoes or vegetables. Remember, whatever is on top is the first thing their eyes are going to see.

Parting Thoughts

"Plating" food becomes habit forming. The more you practice it, the more your meals are planned around visual appeal. However, do not forget that taste is first and foremost. Fortunately, most of the tips delivered here do not effect the taste of your meals in major ways.

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