In terms of plating, the plates or platters that one uses may actually help make – or break – a dish when it’s served to diners.
No matter how innovative the idea behind a dish is, or how good its ingredients are, or even how impeccable the chef’s technique behind it, the way it is presented to diners goes a long way in enhancing its overall appeal.
According to chef Jack Coetzee of Urbanologi in Johannesburg, South Africa, culinary professionals seriously need to consider what plates they use to put their food on. As he puts it, there is a great deal of trial and error involved in selecting what plates to use.
There are three particular shapes – round, square, and rectangular – that are most commonly used and here are a few practical pointers as to how to use them.
A rectangular plate is best used for dishes that are embellished with a lot of small or finely chopped garnishes that are artfully scattered across the surface. Its appeal is mostly aesthetic, serving as a blank canvas for chefs who want to use a whimsical approach to plating food.
While favored by many chefs, a square plate can be challenging to use as, according to Coetzee, there are a lot of dead spots on it.
The trick here is to mentally segment the plate into a grid with nine square blocks. While most may use the central blocks to set the food, a creative way of preventing any dead spots is to spread sauce into a decorative pattern around the dish – an idea that further bolsters visual interest on the diner.
This plate is used 90 per cent of the time in many restaurants. Plating a dish on a round surface also involves the use of the grid, but without having any corners in this case.
Interestingly, Coetzee advises against putting anything right in the middle of the plate. In this context, asymmetry is the chef’s best bet with regard to creating a masterpiece on a plate.
Height is a point to consider when using a round plate: piling up the elements of the dish to one side creates elegance as well as visual appeal.