February 23, 2018

First impressions last, and as any hungry diner knows, the first look at a dish can have a powerful effect on how well its received. Simply tasting delicious isn’t enough when you’re paying to enjoy a meal out; it also must look appetizing.

Today’s professional chefs and culinary students alike are quickly learning that the art of plating can make a big difference in business. Not only will guests appreciate a good-looking dinner, but they’re also more apt to snap a photo of a dish and share it with their friends on social media. When they share photos of their food from your restaurant, it’s free advertising for you, and offers a way to engage with your customers directly.

Have fun with floral

Micro greens have had their day; now, chefs want to brighten up their plates with fresh, edible flowers, wrote Forbes contributor Milly Stilinovic. Flower flavors are delicate, so chefs can either add them to a well-prepared but simply flavored dish to bring them out, or let the dish speak for itself, with a colorful bloom carefully placed for a cheerful addition without adding a distracting flavor.

Some edible flowers to consider adding to your dishes include:

  • Tuberous begonias: Stems, petals and leaves are all edible, and the stems can replace rhubarb in some dishes. However, the flowers and stems contain oxalic acid, so people with gout, kidney stones, or rheumatism should avoid them, What’s Cooking America explained.
  • Cornflower: This blue bloom can be used as a natural food dye, and the blossoms have a spicy flavor similar to cloves.
  • Honeysuckle: As the name implies, these blooms have a sweet flavor similar to honey. It’s important to note that honeysuckle berries are dangerous and should not be incorporated into any dishes.

Layers on layers

In 2018, chefs will show off their precision and technique. They’ll create clean, perfectly positioned dishes that require a steady hand and a creative vision. Scaling, fanning or otherwise layering items is one way to rise to the challenge, The Art of Plating reported.

A chocolate pastry is carefully plated, complemented by shaved chocolate and a chocolate drizzle.Carefully placing the elements of your dish on the plate demonstrates your precision and creative vision.

Carefully layering the foods in a dish can make even the most simple meal look gourmet. Speaking with Chowhound, chef Christopher Styler, who wrote “Working the Plate: The Art of Food Presentation,” explained how use the fanning technique to create interest in a dish of steak and salad:

“It’s great to slice steak,” Styler noted. “You have the fanned-out slices and the visual appeal of the contrasting colors of the inside and outside … And say you have a little baby arugula salad, thinly sliced red onion and shaved Parmesan. Toss that together and give yourself a little height on that end of the plate. You could fan the steak slices around the salad so it wilts a little bit.”

Monochromatic masterpieces

Chefs learn all about pairing flavors in their culinary curriculum, but what about matching like colors? Choosing a bold color and sticking to it can give chefs a challenge to strive for and present diners with an impressive plate. The Art of Plating highlighted chef Jason Howard’s jackfruit dessert, which incorporates mango cream and passionfruit, the triad all a bright hue reminiscent of a marigold.

One popular shade to coat your dishes in this year is gold. Gilded dishes are adding some glimmer to restaurant menus all over the world, Business Insider reported. From gold-topped pizza (available at Industry Kitchen in New York City) to golden chocolates (found in Leckerbaer in Copenhagen), shimmery entrees and desserts are sure to catch your diners’ eyes.

Certain gold toppings might increase your menu prices. Industry Kitchen’s 24K pizza, topped with caviar, truffles, foie gras, white stilton cheese and, of course, 24-karat gold leaf, costs $2,000.