Food Presentation

by Shirley Lang | November 19, 2014 8:42 pm


The Holiday Entertaining Begins!

Presenting Food

Your family and friends always tell you that your cooking is fantastic. Now it’s the holidays and you feel it’s time to add the ‘wow’ factor. Food presentation is an art with minimal rules. Understanding just a few of the laws of presentation can rocket your meals from average to divine. Here are some easy first steps to food presentation mastery…


All food experiences must start and end with the plate. That is why the choice of plate is an art in itself. The plate must hold food comfortably—it should not feel cramped or too sparse. Always highlight the food by contrasting it against the color of the plate. Dark foods like chocolate and braised beef should be presented on a light plate. Lightly coloured foods like prawn filled tortillas can be presented on a rustic terracotta. Personally as a chef, I think all food looks its best on a white plate, using different shapes and sizes is one of my main ways to be more creative. Mix and match your serving features. Keep it simple, elegant and comfortable.

Arranging Food

Before placing the food, you can add texture to the plate. Sprinkle herbs on the plate of a savoury dish. White powdered sugar can be sprinkled on a plate before a dark chocolate cake is added. Flick sauce from a spoon across the plate before adding its match or you can use a food paint brush to streak a coulis stroke. Contrast colors, accentuate scents, and combine harsh and soft textures.

When combining foods, do not leave too much space between them. At the same time, don’t clump them together. Allow the foods on the plate to breath, to have their own space where they can announce themselves. Always place the main dish (such as the meat) as the focal point, while placing the tallest dish (such as lettuce wrapped in cucumber) at the back. Only use odd numbers when distributing foods on a plate. It’s called the magic of three! As an idea for excellent asparagus presentation, place the stalks in a criss-cross formation with meat served on top. Put your starches on the bottom of the meat, tell your guests “it’s miso sablefish on a bed of ……”.


Garnishing the plate is an art and a science. A strand of lemon or orange peel is a simple garnish. Place a slice of fruit, edible flowers or micro greens that contrast the dish on the plate. Make sure the taste and texture of the garnish relates to the dish. A tomato might not always be appropriate as a garnish next to a salad. Try an apricot or a scallion flower!

Play with shapes. Carrots, onions and cucumbers don’t have to be sliced in circles. Cut them at angles. Peel them. Create ovals, triangles, curls. Weave them with other vegetables. These garnishes should be placed around the food or in the corner. Just remember to use garnishes sparingly. You want your main creations to speak for them selves. Keep it looking clean and simple. Be creative and have fun with it!

Finishing Touch

Serve right away. Eat slowly, savour the flavours! Enjoy your family and guests! And don’t forget, Bon Appetite!


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