Food Presentation Tips: Present Your Food Like a Top Chef (Part 1)

It’s the age of sharing, and we’re not talking about family-style meals! Social media has made it more important than ever for restaurants and caterers to have good food presentation. A beautiful dish can earn you some great promotion in addition to the “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” it garners when arriving at the table. A homely plate, on the other hand, can make diners look elsewhere when searching for a meal. Since the stakes are higher than ever, we’ve put together a list of food presentation tips in order to make your food picture perfect. In part one of this two part series (part two will focus on sharing your food pictures: How to do it, where to do it and social best practices!), we start with the plating:

1. Set the Scene (and the Table)

Subject matter isn’t everything when it comes to a good photo; background is important too. While chefs focus on the food, it’s important not to forget the table setting. Your meticulously arranged dish could be overshadowed by the fact that the cup next to it is chipped and the silverware mismatched. Presentation begins even before the food arrives to the table, which is why having a great setting is so important. We recommend choosing china that compliments the food being served. For example, if you’re serving quail, go elegant. Sushi? Modern.

2. Color Crisis

If you’ve been in the food industry long enough, chances are you’ve prepared a dish and thought that something just looked off once it was plated. Perhaps the reason is a lack of color, or an overabundance of it. If you need to add color, you can do so by using garnishes like fruit, veggies or a sauce in a ramekin. If you need to dial down your dish, consider more muted sides like mashed potatoes, rice or rolls. You could also plate on more simplistic, modern china in stark white.

3. Size Matters

Unless your dish is featured on an episode of Man vs. Food, you don’t want food falling off the side of the plate. Conversely, if your portions only occupy a tiny portion of the plate, it may leave your guests feeling somewhat disappointed. In order for a dish to look it’s best, it should occupy mostof the plate but leave room for the dish to show. We recommend stocking up on a pattern with various dish sizes to accommodate anything you cook up.

4. Add Some Texture

This tip is important not just for food to be visually pleasing, but to also taste great! Our eyes love variation, which is why it’s important to add multiple dimensions to your food. We covered color already, but equally important is texture. If the main component of your dish is smooth (like soup) be sure to add some rough components like toasted bread or a vegetable garnish. If the main dish is rough (like steak) be sure to add a smooth component like mashed potatoes. There’s a reason this combination is a classic!

5. Get Creative

Some occasions and events require you to stick with the basics, but when given some room for creativity you can really wow your guests by surprising them and adding some fun to the food presentation. Think about the theme of the event, the venue, and the food you want to serve. In order to have the ability to go in any creative direction, we recommend that you stock up in each of the three essential china styles: classicelegant and modern.

Next week we’ll talk the basics of taking great photos of food (it’s harder than it sounds!) as well as best practices for featuring your dishes on your website and social media. If you have any more food presentation tips and tricks, we’d love to hear them! Ready to improve your plating? Contact one of our hospitality experts for more information on our product lines or to set up easy ordering.