From color to plate design, food presentation is an important part of the dining experience. While the elite of the culinary world are constantly refining their food presentation techniques, the everyday cook can also benefit from finding new and exciting ways to present food.
Appealing to the Senses
When it comes to food presentation, one of the primary rules is to try to make it appeal to as many of our senses as possible. While it”s difficult to get food to stimulate all five, some come close. Here are tips on how to make your food engage each of the five senses:
- Feel: Include a variety of food with different textures that are sure to stimulate our tactile senses. In addition to juxtaposing food with contrasting textures, using borders and creating empty spaces on the plate add a depth of feeling to the food presentation. For example, separating long, smooth slices of pork from a mound of mashed potatoes with a delicate drizzle of sauce energizes your dish with a tactile richness.
- Sight: Making the meal you prepared look visually appealing on its plate is closely related with creating a “feel” for your dish. While you”ll want to incorporate a variety of food textures, you also want to play with colors that both complement and contrast each other.Using the example above, you can make the browns of the meat and the off-white of the potatoes pop by garnishing with bright orange baby carrots. To further enhance the food color spectrum of your plate, you can even add a few roasted cherry tomatoes.
- Smell: Appealing to your guests” senses of smell has more to do with the flavors and types of food you choose rather than the arrangement of food on the plate. For optimal food presentation, when designing a dish (depending, of course, on the main ingredients and the types of food you choose), you”ll have to decide whether you want the food to be mildly or overly fragrant.For mild fragrance, choose lighter, more muted spices and herbs, such as paprika and parsley. To engage your guests” senses of smell, use garlic, curry and/or chili powder to enhance your food.Because the sense of smell is strongly linked to the sense of taste, creating pleasing smells stimulates appetites, paving the way for the sense of taste to your food.
- Sound: Stimulating your guests” senses of sound is perhaps the hardest aspect to include in your food presentation. However, this doesn”t mean that it is impossible. While few foods make noise on the plate, other food resonates as you eat or are about to eat them, such as crunching on a crispy cracker or cracking open a crab leg.
- Taste: Without a doubt, taste is the most important sense to stimulate in any food dish. Although taste is only fully engaged as you eat, food presentation that strongly appeals to the sense of smell begins to arouse the sense of taste in the food.
By trying to animate as many senses as possible, a chef creates the richest possible dining experience for his diners.
Other Food Presentation Tips
Here are some other general tips that improve your food presentation:
- Avoid inedible garnishes.
- Don”t clutter the plate with too many sides or garnishes. This will detract from the flavors and visual appeal of your main dish.
- Edible garnishes should complement, not distract from, your food.
- Pay attention to the shapes of food. Cutting food into different widths and lengths can make your plate look more dynamic.
- Ultimately, food presentation techniques can turn your dishes into beautiful displays of edible art!