March 16, 2018

Austin culinary arts professionals always need to be conscious of how emerging trends could affect guests’ tastes. That means continuing to explore new recipes and culinary traditions, but also taking into account the way food appears on the plate. The right choices for presentation can be powerful ways of accentuating your food’s best qualities and completing the dining experience.

Expectations for plating evolve over time, from the classics of French dining served on silver platters to modernist splashes of sauce on a white plate. Chefs give themselves an edge by keeping track of the freshest innovations and experimenting with creative concepts. Explore some of the current presentation trends showing up on tables across the country and you may discover a spectacular idea for your next creation.

1. Showing off is in

“Restaurants will take a highly precise and structured approach.”

In recent years, cooking professionals have focused on allowing guests see the natural beauty of their ingredients without any elaborate additions. However, The Art of Plating predicted that restaurants will take a highly precise and structured approach in 2018. Staff at these establishments demonstrate their abilities by carefully designing the appearance of each dish for maximum visual impact.

One key method for orchestrating these plates is scaling: carefully layering on elements to form a pattern that looks like scales. This technique can be used with a wide range of foods, from clams to mushrooms, resulting in a look that’s both elegant and otherworldly. Other increasingly popular arrangements include fanning out key elements, forming a well in which to pour condiments and using molds to achieve unconventional shapes.

2. Adding floral flair

If you want to bring vibrant life and color to a meal, edible flowers are a great idea, and they’re seeing a resurgence in many kitchens. Southern Living noted that nasturtiums are similar in taste to watercress and go well with beef carpaccio, pansies bring a grassy flavor to fruit salads, lavender’s sweetness goes well with dessert and roses add a subtly fruity element to soups. Even if they don’t have a huge impact on the taste of a dish, thoughtfully chosen petals instantly make a dish more intriguing and contribute an appealing seasonal touch.

3. Magnificently monochrome

Another way to attract the eye to a dish is by stripping away all the contrasting colors, allowing a single hue to dominate. Monochrome dishes aren’t new, but many chefs are hopping onto the trend, finding beauty in a stripped-down palette. As The New York Times pointed out, all-black foods in particular have captured diners’ imaginations, showing up extensively on social media. Even if food’s flavor is little impacted by this emphasis on darkness, devouring a monochrome meal is an experience that people feel inspired to share.

Elaborately assembled vegetablesFlowers and highly structured presentation are two big trends.

4. A luxurious leaf

If you want to make a dish memorably decadent, just add a precious metal. Forbes reported that gold could add an elegant touch to an array of dishes in 2018. While edible gold leaf does not affect the taste of food, it does contribute a glittering appearance and an over-the-top sense of luxury. This pricey addition gets people’s attention and makes a dinner or dessert an impressive indulgence.

Trends come and go, but diners remember a delicious meal that’s plated with care and creativity. Culinary academy students should explore the latest developments in presentation, finding exciting ways to attract attention and encourage diners to dig in with gusto. Visually stunning food is an opportunity for chefs to exhibit their skills and for restaurants to make their presence felt on social media.