The Art of the Plate

By Joshua Wickham / Photography By Maria Khoroshilova | September 01, 2016
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Creative tools for making your home-cooked meals beautiful

The Elements of the Plate

When composing a plated meal, it is import to consider all of the elements used and their contribution of both flavor and texture to the dish as a whole. While a certain component might create a dramatic statement on the plate, one must make sure it will not cause an imbalance through a strong flavor or overwhelming texture.

A proper ratio of protein, starch and vegetable is an important consideration. By using one cup or six ounces of protein and a two-to-one ratio of protein to side, you can create a plate that satiates but does not leave the diner uncomfortably full and unable to enjoy another course.

classical presentation

A Classical Presentation

All of the elements are presented “center plate.” The purée is rather tight allowing it to support the sliced duck and Brussels sprouts. The duck has been sliced to show the natural shape of the breast and expose the perfect doneness. Note that all of the plate elements are immediately visible and maintain their natural shape.

contemporary presentation

A Contemporary Presentation

Here, the purée has been thinned and is used as more of a background element. The Brussels sprouts have been cut down to allow more surfaces to caramelize during the cooking process, changing both flavor and appearance. To create a shape that is complementary to the plate, the duck breast was squared before slicing. By creating interesting shapes and lines with the garnishes and accompaniments you can really add some excitement to the plate.

play with your vegetables

Play with Your Vegetables

The above example shows the multitude of shapes and textures you can achieve from just two elements. Fresh vegetables can be cut into an endless amount of shapes to add dimension to your plate.

Creating more surface area on the vegetables will change how the light reflects, creating high- and low-light areas. You can use this to increase or decrease contrast on the plate.

get saucy

Get Saucy

Vegetable purées are great for creating a backdrop or contrast color to back the main elements on the plate. By adjusting the viscosity of the purée you can achieve different effects like swirls and brush strokes.

Reductions and infused oils are a great way to get a pop of color on the plate. Both can also have an intense flavor yet have almost no effect on the overall weight of the dish.

Article from Edible Columbus at
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