How Will Your Dishes Look Online?

Chefs should take into account the increased importance of food's appearance when preparing and serving dishes.

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September 27, 2016 3 min read

These days, any customer in a restaurant can pull out a smartphone and show off a beautifully presented meal, and many take advantage of the opportunity. Zagat’s National Dining Trends Survey for 2016 showed just how important the looks of a dish can be: 44 percent of the diners surveyed said they take pictures of food to share, and 75 percent of those who look at such photos reported their browsing has inspired a visit to a restaurant.

The rise of social media has affected restaurants and chefs in a variety of ways. It’s easier for an establishment to communicate with guests, and, in turn, any customer can become a food critic or photographer. Anyone who is earning a cooking certificate online should take into account the increased importance of food’s appearance when preparing and serving dishes.

Tips for presentation
Crafting meals that not only taste great but also look appealing in person and in photographs takes extra care and attention. By considering texture, color and composition when choosing ingredients, you can assemble plates that engage multiple senses. The plate itself can make a difference as well since the wrong size or shape can make the meal appear either overly busy or unsatisfying.

Personal chef Tracey Torres discussed her approach to plating food with Fast Company Design. She emphasized the importance of considering the amount of white space on the dish and pointed out that slicing meat allows diners to see both the outer sear and how thoroughly it’s cooked. Saucing adds a final touch that can either put an artistic spin on the meal or lend it a sense of rustic indulgence.

Putting that additional effort into presentation will pay off when guests snap a photo, but it could also make eating the food more enjoyable. According to a study published in the journal Appetite, assembling even a simple dish like steak and chips or a garden salad in an artful manner resulted in subjects reporting improved flavor. They also expressed willingness to pay more for the better-looking items.

Taking extra care with a dish's appearance can pay off for chefs.

Taking extra care with a dish’s appearance can pay off for chefs.

Make social media an ally
Creating good-looking food is just the beginning of capturing the interest of food enthusiasts online. To fully take advantage of the promotional possibilities available through social media, many chefs have become active participants. Capturing alluring images of freshly prepared items, depicting customers enjoying their time in the restaurant and offering a sense of the kitchen’s culture all encourage people to stop in.

However, the chefs who are the most effective at using social media go beyond posting photos. They use these sites as an opportunity to engage with the local community and express themselves. A thoughtfully developed online presence can go a long way in promoting a restaurant and building a chef’s reputation.

Chefs today must think about how their dishes and even their own personalities will appear online. You can master the art of presentation as part of a culinary academy education and then display your meticulously arranged dishes to the world.

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