“People eat with their eyes” is a relevant saying. A jumble of food heaped on a plate turns off most people, unless they happen to be ravenous.
Presenting food, at least in restaurants, has been an important part of success.
Cold food must be presented cold, and hot food hot. Food must be resented in a logical fashion and thoughtful keeping in mind ease in eating. Banquet food presentation differs from restaurant plated food presentation.
In the 1970’s, cooks presented food on rimmed plates by placing meat in front, the above to left came the starch (potato or rice, or noodles), and to the right the vegetables(s).
Generally, all the food on the plate was edible if chops or T-bone steaks were ordered, the server would remove bones and place everything on the plate on a gueridon, reheat briefly, and then serve. Some people want to cut their meat, if this was the case or maybe still is in some restaurants; a salad plate is provided to for the bones.
In steak houses meat is served on the plate. If potatoes or vegetables, or both are ordered, they are served separately. Today, at least in modern restaurants, food presentation differs, compared to three decades ago.
In the 1980’s chef decided to build “towers” of food by placing potatoes of the bottom, then came vegetables, which were topped by meat or fish. The plate looked impressive, but once the first bite was cut, the whole thing collapsed and looked “messy”. Predictably, this type of presentation lasted only a few years.
In the past, meat was napped with sauce. Now, the sauce is first poured on the plate, the meat or fish placed on it, followed by vegetable or potato or rice around it.
Food must be plated with ease of eating in mind. The food must be easily accessible.Needless to say, the plate must be colourful i.e never monochromatic. Cold food i.e pates, galantines, smoked fish, are easier to present artistically than hot food for obvious reasons. In fact, today many chefs talk about plating as a form of art. Art is supposed to last, but food art is always short-lived.
First the chef decides about the shape and size of the plate (rhomboid, square, or round). The selection depends on the main ingredient’s shape. Smoked trout or eel looks better on a rhomboid plate, a stuffed tomato better on a square plate, and a combination of foods on a round plate. A well, thoughtfully “designed” and plated dish must offer colour and texture contrast. Imagine a plate of fish, with dots of green sauce, a slice of tomato, a wedge of lemon, a carrot curl and a sprig of flat-leaf parsley.
Creating culinary art involves more than knowledge and art of cooking. The chef looks at it as “painting” with sauce, setting scenes with carved carrots of broccoli stalks, and fennel fronds. Art is supposed to imitate life, but culinary art is destroyed shortly after presentation. Now many people take a picture of imaginatively presented food before destroying it forever.
Banquet buffet food presentation differs from restaurant food. Cold food is presented on large mirrors. Here, chefs present pates, galantines, smoked ore poached fish, and cold cuts with ease of service in mind. Slices of cold cuts are rolled, pates sliced, and laced on a mirror in front. Each mirror is also appropriately garnished with colourful vegetables, which may be carved, or on their natural state.
Today, chefs must combine skills with artistry and practicality in mind to entice diners. They must make the meal “experience” to become and remain successful.