Too much focus on plating, too little on taste among young chefs?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by chef brah, Aug 21, 2017.

  1. chef brah

    chef brah

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    Culinary Student
    Recently we had a class in culinary school where we had to cook chicken in any of our style with limited list of ingredients...and many cooked their own plate of chicken and side dishes to go with it..

    now many cooked french style to impress the classic french chef, while others made tons of swipes of sauces on plates and brought their own exotic produce to impress the chef ..all their plates looked much fancier than mine.

    i just cooked some chicken tikka masala with improvised recipe (using veg puree and veal stock and own blend of aromatics) and got tons of compliments.
    i was disappointed that none of my classmates dishes tasted good..veggies were undercooked, underseasoned, batter fried veggies were greasy and drowning in oil and chickens were overcooked, risotto was a mushy cake.

    do u guys think this excess focus on plating with swipes of sauces and ruining the culture of cooking? every 20 something kids roaming around with those tweezers and plating tools.
  2. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Retired Chef
    Yeah, I always laugh when people can find nothing to criticize on the plate except for the parsley, which is non functional, but everything else is made to perfection.
  3. allanmcpherson


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    Probably yes. At the same time, you are in a school setting. That's kind of the time to dic about and try things. From the way you described things being received, hopefully your classmates got a bit of an ego check from this demo. I certainly think its more fundamental to have good tasting food. I think that is fundamental skill set to build plating off of. That said, a large portion of the skill of plating is managing portion, ratio of one element of a dish to the others, even suggesting how you think the customer ought to eat the dish. I think we've all had dishes where all the elements were "good" but the over-all effect was hosed by poor plating choices. Plating is fashion, cooking is stitchwork and choice of material. Ideally they make eash other better.
    drirene and azenjoys like this.
  4. redbeerd cantu

    redbeerd cantu

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    St. Philip's College Culinary Arts (AAS, Cum Laude), International Kitchens
    In my first semester of culinary school, my Cooking 101 Chef told us to make him a salad. We had 15 minutes. The entire class turned into a salad competition, each of the beginners and experienced cooks alike cut decorative, intricate designs and accents. Sweat poured and the concentration in the air was thick.

    At the end of the 15 minutes, Chef had everyone present their salad along with a brief vocal description of what they did. There was some really nice work done.

    At the end of the presentations, Chef said something along the lines of, "These are all fine and dandy, but my restaurant has a lunch rush with about 100 covers in two hours; I can't be waiting for you to spend 15 minutes on a salad, when each of the 100 guests is expecting a salad!" He then proceed to roughly chop romaine, quarter a tomato, cut a couple of slices of a halved onion, and grate about a quarter of a medium-sized carrot. It took about a minute. "That's a salad, no matter how unpretty it might be."

    Great point.
    oldarpanet likes this.
  5. someday


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    Professional Chef
    Cooks shouldn't run before they can walk. Presentation is like 90% aesthetics, so it should follow that taste is paramount importance for the whole dish. I heard G. Ramsay once say that the presentation is only there for 30 seconds, but the flavor holds the memory. Which I think it valuable advice.

    I think culinary students should be focused on getting the basics down. Because out in the real world, no line cook is going to find good work if they can't cook a green vegetable or a steak to order. Presentation can come later. I do some more modern things when I plate (though nothing to the extreme), like in my avatar pic, but presentation is always the LAST consideration for making a dish. No chef would (or at least should) choose form over function.

    Those people in your class too focused on style over flavor will be the ones selling insurance in 5 years. At least most of them. To me, those types are in love with the mythology aspect of being a chef, not the reality. The reality isn't making one pretty plate for instagram, it's getting to work at 10am to make 200 pretty plates for service.
  6. mclain


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    Professional Chef
    I can tell you from years of experience that yes, indeed plating and presentation are incredibly important, but if it doesn't taste good or complement the dish then it is superfluous and gimmicky, and doesn't belong on the plate. One of the most disappointing things about people who are coming out of culinary school is that they are too arrogant and ignorant. The craft and artistry of gourmet cuisine requires that you study and master the basic scientific methods of cooking. It is about understanding a product, ingredient, procedure, and application way before buying tweezers.
  7. chefross


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    Former Chef
    I would like to add that although plate presentations are important the food must also taste good first.
    Yes, we eat with our eyes and that "30 seconds" we enjoy the plate is gone from our memory, but all that is lost when the food is not done right
  8. peachcreek


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    Retired Chef
    A giant crock of bullshit.
    The food makes the plate.
    If what you made tastes fantastic? It looks fantastic.
    Getting out the tweezers is all about ego.
    That shit just gets in the way between the truth and the food.
    But then again that is my carefully placed, perfectly garnished, obsessively prayed over reply.
    (of 30 seconds)
  9. apprentichef


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    Line Cook
    1st rule of cooking. Does it taste good.

    Swishy plating is nice, but that's an extravagance that's secondary to taste.
    drirene and iceman like this.
  10. stormrider


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    Demi Chef
    More and more I'm seeing star Chefs going this eye-candy trend. I once did a trial shift in a 3 star restaurant and had the opportunity to try one of the entrees. It was just a regular green peas creamy soup with fancy spices, but man, it was beautifully presented and people were spending literally thousand pounds on fancy bottles to drink with this tasting menu. How much would they pay if this exact same soup was served without this presentation in a non-stared restaurant?

    Unfortunately despite our love and faith for the real good food, what sells for big bucks is the photo that clients will upload to their instagrams.