I need to put a bit of poetry in my dishes. The presentation of a dish teaches me new rules of harmony, and through this exercise I find a form of peace. I always have to give my recipes a visual impact. (Pierre Gagnaire)
In the Middle Ages, care was taken with the presentation of a dish to distract from unrefined or not very tasty food; today, that is certainly not the purpose 😉
The term “plating” used in restaurants refers to the careful arrangement of food on the plate, pleasing the eyes as well as the palate. The appearance of a dish, in fact, is now as important as its taste. Once just a finishing job, a final stage of preparation unrelated to flavor and the recipe, today the presentation of the food, or plating, is an integral part of the recipe itself because it also affects the diner’s satisfaction and overall evaluation. A dish that is attractive to the eyes will be tasted with greater pleasure and will even be photographed. The purpose is to impress the diner, who always wants to be surprised; a dish must attract attention and intrigue, creating expectation even before the flavor reaches the mouth. This experience involves all the senses.
Knowing how to plate requires a good dose of precision, the right touch and a lot of creativity to be always original, but also involves experience, to understand what kind of plating a certain food requires. Many courses are offered around this art. There are no fixed rules, but we can identify some basic principles:
- for the food to be the star and to stand out, it must be easily recognizable, creating a balance with the minor ingredients
- never completely fill the dish but always seek alternation between fullness and emptiness: exaggerated or skimpy portions are both unappetizing
- the “odds rule”: use portions of food in odd numbers so that each piece celebrates the one next to it; asymmetry and decentralization are the new trends
- favor vertical placement
- always use edible decorations; today’s trend is “round” food and sprouts of all kinds
- play with liquid (perhaps with “drops of sauce”) and solid consistencies, with soft and crunchy
- pay attention to color coordination among the various ingredients.
Pay particular attention to the choice of the right plate, from temperature to color. The color of a plate should never be the same as that of food; white and light colors are ideal because they highlight any food item. Square and rectangular plates are very versatile and suitable for pasta, meat or fish. With long rectangular dishes, the food can be placed along the entire length; the chef has complete freedom in the arrangement and can exploit the diagonals, creating crossed or triangular links between foods. Round dishes are suitable for soups, risottos and pasta of all types; the food is placed in the middle and then surrounded by sauces, vegetables or other items as applicable.
New this year is the Bowl (the so-called Buddha Bowls). Large or small, preferably handmade, bowls symbolize a new, carefree, light and fast way of eating: you eat holding them in your hand, Asian style, like a plate of street food. The bowls allow you to savor the tastes better and are primarily used for vegan dishes in which the ingredients are prepared separately, following precise rules of colors, calories and nutrient associations.