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Diners usually wait 15 to 20 minutes while your chefs put their dishes together. Often, there is built-up anticipation as the waitstaff walks over to place the food in front of the diner. Then, comes the first bite… with their eyes. An artistic touch on everyday dishes such as steak or spaghetti can do a lot to whet the appetite further and start the meal on a strong note! 

Here are a few quick tips on how to create a work of art on your plate.

1. The plan

Plan it in your mind first. The goal is to replicate what you have in mind with minimal food waste during the plating process. Alternatively, draw an outline or a rough sketch prior to plating. 

2. The plate

Try square, oval or other irregular shapes so that you have more options when arranging various components of a dish. A larger plate gives you more room to work with. However, do not put too much food. Less is sometimes more. Blank space on plates helps to highlight your composition. It’s always safer to go with white plates if you are in any doubt.

However, do not shy away from a patterned or colourful plate; it can still look spectacular. Whatever the colour, make sure it complements the tones of your dish. If you have a dish with lots of lighter tones, try a plate that’s of a darker hue, like charcoal. That will help the dish stand out. 

Additionally, you can create varied colour themes with place mats, flower vases and napkins.

The universal rule of serving the three food groups – protein, carbs and vegetables.

This arrangement is considered most attractive in terms of how the eye perceives colours. 

3. The temperature

One attention to detail that diners appreciate is heating or cooling the plate appropriately, according to the dish. It would be a shame to have a yummy hot dish gone cold too soon because it was served on a cold plate.

4. The placement

Position the main element of your meal as the centre of attention and ensure that ingredients do not overwhelm or overshadow it. Remember to have the highest food at the back, and not to have the lowest point at the centre.

Here are some other arrangements you could try.

  • Be odd. Avoid symmetry.
  • Think vertically. Stack and form a food tower. 
  • Overlap. Use both vertical and horizontal spaces. 
  • Splash. Drizzle or sprinkle sauces just before serving so that the ingredients do not mess up the sauce’s pattern or lines.

Also, remember to observe a half-inch space or more between the food and the edge.

The universal rule of serving the three food groups – protein, carbs and vegetables.

5. The garnishing 

Garnishing such as herbs, slices of lime or lemon, a drizzle of dressing, a sprig of mint, sliced vegetables, and fruits such as cherry tomatoes or sundried tomatoes are little fixes that add contrast and colour to a dish. 

Garnishes should suit the meal and echo some of the main ingredients. Bear in mind to include a garnish that doesn’t overpower the flavours of the dish’s main ingredients. 

The universal rule of serving the three food groups – protein, carbs and vegetables.

6. The condiments

Place condiments such as salt, spices, chilli, oil and sauces in suitable and non-chipped containers or jars. If you are using plastic ones, purchase them in plain subtle colours like brown or black. 

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