That looks good enough to eat!

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by teamfat, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. teamfat

    teamfat

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    So in the current thread on crispy chicken skin I posted a picture:

    [​IMG]

    The intent was to show the chicken skin, the subject of the discussion.  But as sometimes happens we got off on a tangent when a certain poster made an offer to provide some constructive criticism of that particular plating.  Definitely some interesting, informative comments followed.  But that thread was about chicken skin, this one is about plating.

    So what do you think about the presentation?  What is right, what is wrong, what details can we extract from basic artistic notions?

    mjb.
     
  2. chefross

    chefross

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    Please remember.....................you asked.............

    Looking at the plate with a professional eye, I see:

    * The plate is like a framed picture and your food went out of the frame

    * I see a splatter of sauce on the rim

    * The use of slices of tomato with fresh cheese is a nice idea but the presentation is a bit off....perhaps broiling the tomato whole or stuffed with the cheese would have made a better presentation.

    * Serving chicken, if in an upscale situation should be "ready to eat" in other words....there should not be any bone to deal with.

    * Color wise the plate is dull and needs color. You have the golden color of the chicken but nothing to set it off. The plate is one dimensional. It could use some height....perhaps leaning the asparagus against the thigh after saucing.

    Just my $.02
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2010
  3. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    First where are you presenting this? If at home then this is a great presentation. If you simply want to spruce it up a bit here are my suggestions.

    Much like what ChefRoss says:
    • Try an all white plate. This will provide a great break drop for show casing the beautiful colors of the food. This plate actually detracts from the overall presentation.
    • Pile your asparagus into a triangle. Three on the bottom then two then one. Cut them all the same length.
    • Cut the tomatoes slices evenly and then finish the tops of them with a little chopped parsley or my preference would be a small dolop of pesto.
    • Keep all the food within the inner plate ring.
     
  4. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    As I said on the other thread, there is nothing wrong with a meat & two, served on a thrice-divided plate. It's how most of us plate at home most of the time. Such plating, however, doesn't make an aesthetic statement, which is why fine-dining chefs don't like it. They recognise that we eat first with our eyes, and try and appeal to that sense.

    Keep that in mind. There is no right nor wrong about plating. Just ways of making that aesthetic statement. With that in mind:

    One chronic problem with at-home plating is that we all have at least one set of "good" china. Unfortunately, most of the time, patterned china is about the plate, rather than about the food that goes on it. And that's true in this case. I find the floral pattern very distracting.

    I don't fully subscribe to the white-only idea of many cooks and stylists. But I do feel that if you want the food to be the star the plate should be a solid, neutral color, or, at most, have minimal patterning. Imagine that plate, for instance, with just the two rings but without the floral.

    Overall, you have not taken advantage of negative space. The effect is an overcrowded plate.

    Whenever possible you want textural breaks. So the tomatoes, for instance, should have been shingled rather than laid flat in a row. Personally, I don't care for little cubes of cheese like that, and would have gone with thin slices instead. And I'd have gotten some fresh herbs on the 'maters.

    More than likely I would have served the asparagus in a seperate, appropriately sized, dish. But, if not (which means an oversized plate rather than the standard one you used) I would have either triangled them, as Nicko suggests, or woven them.

    As to the chicken, it really depends on your plating goal. A basic rule of fine dining is that nothing inedible goes on the plate, ever! If you want to plate that way, the bone has to go. For at-home, with no special guests, you probably don't care. But I find it worth the effort, and would not have served with the bone in. Point of fact, I would have presliced the chicken, and fanned it out on a smaller puddle of sauce, and lightly drizzled a little more sauce over the slices.

    Although I plate restaurant style at home (heck, there's just the two of us, so why not?), I'm not as obsessive  about edge splatters as I would be in a restaurant. A tiny drip or two wouldn't bother me. But your edge is sloppy. You've got sauce oozing onto the rim from the asparagus, and another glob of it dripping off the chicken. The former results from the aspargus being too large for where it's plated (it should be contained by the inner circle). The latter likely just that you didn't notice it.

    All that said, let me also note that if I were a normal at-home cook, there would actually be just a few changes I'd make to that plate.

    1. Change the china (and maybe not even do that).

    2. Bone the chicken.

    3. Make the asparagus smaller, so it fits better on the plate.

    4. Shingle the tomatoes.

    In other words, even the plate-divided-in three can be made more visually appealing, without a lot of stylistic techniques.
     
  5. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    For a non-pretentious homemeal, your presentation looks fine to me.

    There's a lot going on nowadays in presentation, but, first of all, let's call the taste factor a "conditio sine qua non"; taste has to be perfect and never subjected to the presentation.

    As for contempory styles of plating, constructing little towers are now also very in the past.

    Take a look at the following link; simple but mindblowing presentations!! It's the creations of some very highly trained and skilled Belgian young topchefs. Many are in their early thirties and some already have Michelin stars; http://www.flemishfoodies.be/

    Key factor is creating a unity by grouping most separate elements in the centre or elsewhere on the plate, or, as you can see in the link, by dressing the elements in a long stretched formation. Above all, reduce the quantity of food. Leaving a lot of blank space on a plate works very artistic. That's also why they use bigger plates frequently.

    A lot of food elements are now cut and prepared in smaller sizes, which allows nice color combinations and lots of variations in arrangement. Also, different cutting techniques make nice variations; cubes, slices, sticks...
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2010
  6. gobblygook

    gobblygook

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    I simply don't understand the plating that Chris linked to above.  If I were looking for abstract art, perhaps they make sense, but while they are visually appealing, they don't make me want to eat them.  I represent the American "bubba" factor, so I want FOOD on my plate, not plate.  The minor stylistic changes that KY referred to are incredibly helpful to help me understand what could be done differently, but this fad of "edible art" is annoying at best.  I want food that tastes good, not art that is edible. 

    I think this pretty much explains why I don't "get" Iron Chef.  I don't care how it tastes, when I hear "fish ice cream", I don't think "wow, I have to eat that".  To me, a plate loaded with king crab legs is visually appealing.  When you add something green to make the presentation look prettier, if what you added isn't something I enjoy eating, you've wasted food. 

    I'm quite interested in how to "dress up" home-cooking style American food.  That oddball stuff they get Michelin stars for in Europe just doesn't appeal to me.  Every time I hear Michelin star, all I can think of is the Michelin man walking into a restaurant with Bill Engvall's voice saying "here's your star".
     
  7. bazza

    bazza

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    Perhaps the people giving advice here and on the other thread would be kind enough to post some pictures of their own plating techniques. I find it very difficult to photograph food, even if it looks fantastic on the plate it is another challenge to capture that in a photograph.
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Wish I could help, Bazza. But I don't even own a digital camera, let alone understand how to post pix electronically.

    One thing to keep in mind: If you shoot straight down at the plate the photo will never look good. Shoot from an angle. And compose the shot as you'd do with any found object.

    Probably the best tuturial would be the food porn in upscale cookbooks. Look at the pix and ask yourself, why did they use that angle, that sort of lighting, those sorts of props? Styling, in this case, is important only in how it effects the answer to those questions.
     
  9. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I think this pretty much explains why I don't "get" Iron Chef.

    I think your confusing plating, per se, with the basic concept of Iron Chef. Their job, on that show, is to push the envelope of taste, flavor combinations, and so forth.

    If you mentally ignore unappealing taste factors, and look just at the plating, you can learn a lot. I would pick Morimoto and Cat Cora as particularly ept at plating, and you might pay attention to their approaches.
     
  10. durangojo

    durangojo

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    ditto to what ky and chefross said...i'm not going to tell you how to plate, just what my eye saw...there was no flow, no connection, no balance...it wasn't how the food looked, or how it was prepared, it was how it looked on the plate..if you're gonna put food on a plate, you may as well take the very few minutes it takes to balance it...its like putting flowers in a vase...you can just plop them in or you can take a few minutes to cut and arrange them.....which to you would look better?  i like to use different opposing colored plates..for instance if i have a veal puttenesca,with a spinach fettuccine  and roasted veg side, i would plate on tuscan gold(i almost always use a large plate/bowl...has a large rim, and small bowled center).if i had  fish or scallops with a mango chili sauce and yakisoba noodles, i would plate on a ruby red plate/bowl.......i like to use simple garnishes such as a single chive sprig or two crossed, a basil leaf tucked in somewhere...small edible flowers, a few pieces of shaved parm. i also like to drizzle a balsamic wine reduction over part of the plated food,or the whole plate, depending on what it is. i like drizzling sauces..i like the look of nonchanantly splashed paint that a sauce in a squirt bottle can give to a plate..i LOVE squirt bottles!!!

    GG...why not have edible art? that's what its all about, and you can certainly have both with plenty of FOOD on your plate. .if you are about to or are thinking of opening a restaurant, you should know, or better know, that people 'eat with their eyes' first.....when you walk into a bakery, and look at all the beautiful desserts all lined up, you notice everyone around you is oohing and aahing...why do you think that is? yes, the smell is heavenly, but eye appeal is most certainly a big part... you know, even when i eat alone, i always 'plate' my food and i garnish it as well...god, i practically have to resist myself from plating and garnishing my dogs bowl!......

    joey
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2010
  11. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm a party pooper and serve family style. Still, you have to present the common serving plate too, but it's generally easier with just the one thing on/in it.
     
  12. gobblygook

    gobblygook

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    I don't like "edible art" because I see it to be much like edible undies (which I'm guessing about).  They're more for show than taste.  First and foremost, I want food.  If the food I want can be prettied up some, go for it.  However, if the components of the art are simply edible, what's the point?  I'm not saying that plating can't add character to a dish, but the things that Chris linked to above, well, just look like the purpose was to be pretty and the requirement was something appealing to the eye that, as a side note, was edible. 

    It's also fair to note that I don't do "courses".  If I'm eating out, I normally have 2 or 3 courses, but only because most entrees come with salad /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif. 
     
  13. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    When I read the critics on previous post, I thought exactly the same. I might have upset Gobblygook also, posting that link that shows how far plating can be pushed to extremes. However, I do make everyday homecooked food and I'm proud to show a few. I have some more elaborate things too, but these are everyday homecooked things.

    Pork tenderloin flavored with coffee and orange zeste. Celeriac puree and 1980's styled haricots wrapped in bacon.

    Chicken and mushrooms.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  14. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    On Chris's firt pic, it's pretty, but pisses me off as a diner. I don't want my meat in my potatoes. nor my vegies in the sauce.  Too often in my opinion, the trend is architecture when the food doesn't really belong in a mass.
     
  15. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    These look excellent Chris.  Are those potatoes?  Whatever they are I want to eat them.
     
  16. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I'm not very good at plating at all.  I subscribe mostly to the Jamie Oliver way of plating.  Here is my attempt at negative space.  Seared cod on a bed of steamed and dressed dandelion greens topped with a red pepper salsa.



    Here I forgot to take a pic before we started eating but it's eggs benedict.



    Here's an example of not bothering with plating at all.  Swedish meatballs.



    Salted cod and potato stew.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2010
  17. durangojo

    durangojo

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    i think that 'plating' connects you to your customer, or to whomever you are cooking the meal for. it means that someone cared enough not to just get the food on the plate but to think about and take the time to understand how it is should be balanced...just like having different food textures does...its not just the eating that is involved.. part of what excites, teases and tantalizes are all the senses coming together at once....its really rather a seduction...if you've ever heard a diner just absolutely giddy over a plate, you'd know what i mean...sometimes its as simple as just putting your food on the right dish.

    joey
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2010
  18. chefbazookas

    chefbazookas

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    They look like what I call 'home fries'.  Yummy cubed, fried chunks of potato goodness.  I, too want to eat them. And the mushrooms.  And lastly the chicken.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif
     
  19. french fries

    french fries

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    Now that alone is the sign of a good dish. Or a good appetite! Maybe a bit of both? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  20. homemadecook

    homemadecook

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    Those pics are really good. I hope someday, I will also learn on plating. /img/vbsmilies/smilies//frown.gif