Food Plating Techniques and Tools for the Perfect Food Presentation

Whether you’re a home chef looking to share exciting recipes and images with your followers, or a restaurant owner or chef looking to improve the overall dining experience, plating your food properly can make all the difference.

Two particular food plating techniques and their corresponding food plating tools play an important role in getting the dining experience right and even making your food taste better. Let’s discuss the impact of texturing, positioning, and more as we work towards the perfect food presentation.

The Benefits of Food Plating for Home Chefs and Restaurants

Food plating is so much more than just arranging ingredients on a plate. Eating is a multi-sensory experience, and the way your food is presented is what encourages your diners to try your dish. Besides the fact that no one wants to eat something that doesn’t look appealing, those same people expect a five-star experience if they’re meant to pay five-star prices.

This is becoming even more prevalent in the age of Instagram and amongst food bloggers – all it takes is one beautifully presented meal – or a poorly plated one – to make or break your reputation.

There’s actually science behind this: A study performed by professor Charles Spence at Oxford found that the nicer the food presentation, the better it tastes. In his study, 60 people were given three different salads and asked to rate them by taste. Keep in mind, all the ingredients were identical, they were just plated differently.

In the end, the one that looked like a famous painting received the best ratings. The participants thought that it tasted 29% better than the rest, even with the same ingredients. This same research also found that customers were willing to spend almost three times as much on a nicely plated dish.

So, yes – food plating and presentation matters as you seek to elevate your brand or your reputation.

The Top Two Food Plating Techniques

At Nikken Foods, we follow the two main schools of thought when it comes to plating: classic plating and free form plating.

Classic food plating:

This technique uses the clock method and focuses on portion sizes. With this method, you should plate your food as if the dish was the face of a clock – from the diner’s point of view. The protein should be somewhere between 3:00 and 9:00, the carbs from 9:00 to 12:00, and the vegetables between 12:00 and 3:00.

Freeform food plating:

This technique has a bit more of an artistic feel and utilizes unique shapes and sizes for garnishes, sauces and oils.

Whichever food plating technique you use, we recommend following these tips:

Work to build some height on the plate – a good rule of thumb is to use the moist ingredients as the base. These tend to move during delivery, but they can be anchored a bit better if you place other foods on top of them.

We recommend serving odd amounts of food if possible – for instance, if you have to choose between serving 6 or 7 pieces of shrimp, go with 7. This will not only be more visually appealing, but it gives diners the perception that they’re getting more food.

According to food plating guidelines, you should cut meat horizontally and fan out slices to show off the quality. The finding here is that customers will already assume it tastes good when they can see that it’s perfectly cooked to their preference.

When in doubt, keep things simple. Use a variety of colors, avoid overcrowding the plate and let the quality of the cooking speak for itself.

Be Sure to Use the Right Food Plating Tools

Using the right food plating tools can also improve your overall dish presentation by helping you handle, shape and structure your food.

Decorating brushes are one of the most important products in your toolkit. They help detail lines and create broad strokes with sauces.

Garnishing kits are an easy way to get everything you need like tongs, squeeze bottles, citrus zesters, melon ballers, plating wedges, brushes, etc. Molds are useful for shaping food and can help you develop structure in height as you stack ingredients.

If you are working with desserts or chocolate, be sure to have shavers on hand to finish off your creation!

Whichever food plating technique you use to create the perfect presentation, don’t forget to make the food taste amazing. Nikken Foods is constantly creating new, all-natural ingredient solutions to enhance the flavors of your food products. Contact us today to request a sample.