Art of Food Decorating

The Eyes Also Eat

  It is said that the eyes also eat. And so, it is very important to not only prepare delicious dishes, but also decorate them, so they gladden both - taste and eyes. The presentation and unfolding of dishes are very important. A beautifully decorated salad, properly presented, causes more interest than it's "modest neighbor".

 

It is wise to think about how to arrange all food decorations in advance. Plates should not detract attention from the dishes being served. Fruit and vegetable decorations should be neat, with the shear lines clear-cut and accurate. When decorating, care must be given to keep edges of the plates clean. Decorations make meals appealing, but should not be overdone. Excessive embellishment will not make even the best dish more appealing, but rather has the opposite effect. Don't forget this rule: the more a food is varicolored and rich in components, the less it should be decorated. Three sprigs of fresh greens may be sufficient as a garnish. Conversely, a salad that does not stand out with vivid colors, can be decorated very elegantly.

 

In order for fruit and vegetable decorations to be effective, attention should be given to the contrast of colors. The orange color is transmitted by  carrots, oranges and papaya; red  with tomatoes, beets and radishes; green with cucumbers, leeks, spinach and various greens; and white with  white radishes, turnips and whites of hard-boiled eggs. If you need to tint food decorations, use natural dyes, such as tomato paste, curry, paprika, saffron, beet juice, tea, coffee and  green parsley juice.

 

In decorating salads, vegetables both - raw and boiled, can be used. For example, raw  turnips are very well suited for  creating  white compositions, and beets for red. Leek, parsley, cucumber and mint leaves can serve as stems and leaves for culinary bouquet. Also,  lemons, oranges, and avocados can be turned into attractive baskets and boats. However, some vegetables lose their decorative quality when they are heat treated.

 

Food decorating opens great opportunities for creativity and imagination. You will see how simple decorations (garnishes) can help you to transform your long-familiar dishes into works of art that will impress your guests!

Designing The Platter

1. Think and plan ahead.

 

Making a sketch is a very good idea. The best way to start is to mentally divide the platter into egual parts. This will help you avoid lopsided arrangements by using equally spaced markers as  guides. It is then not difficult to sketch a symmetrical, balanced layout.

Example are : (Figure 1)

 

Figure 1

2. Plan for visual variation.

 

A good arrangement makes the eyes move across the platter, following the guides you have set. Attractive  dishes usually consist of portions arranged in rows or lines, and they can be curved  or angled.

Examples are: (Figure 2)

3. Keep items proportional.

 

It should be clear that the main food items (meat, fish,etc) on the platter should look like main items.

The garnish and decorations should not be so large or tall that they dominate the platter and overwhelm the main items in size, height, or quantity. The size of platter should be proportional to the amount of food. Avoid small platters that appear crowded, or large ones that look almost empty. Leave enough space between food items, so the platter doesn't look jumbled.

                                 Figure2

4. Using foods as decorations.

 

The table decoration may be the dish itself. For example, slices of different colored sausages, ham and cheese, arranged as a butterfly or a flower, can be  very beautiful. It is very important to plan the size and shape of all components on the plate, maintaining the proportions and color contrast. The size of the platter has to match, so that your butterfly or flower does not look too small and lost on the platter. Conversely, if the object (butterfly) is too big, guests will not understand what you are trying to represent.  Here you can see an example of an assorted meat presentation. This dish does not require additional decorative elements, other than minor  enhancements. Otherwise, it would overdo and can only spoil the presentation.

Platter Presentation

1.The food on the platter should be easy to handle and serve, so one portion can be removed without ruining the other portions and arrangement.

 

2. Attractive platters can be made from metals, mirrors, china, wood, plastic, or other materials, as long as they appear suitable for meal presentation. Metal platters that might cause discoloration or metalic flavors, can be covered with a thin layer of aspic before placing the food on them.

 

3. Once a piece of food has touched the platter, do not remove it. This will help you eliminate overhandling of food, which is a bad sanitary practice. Mirror trays and shiny silver are easily smudged. If food is removed, you will have to wash the tray or platter and start over again.

 

4. If you plan to present beautifully decorated foods, choose a plain platter, that will not detract from the presentation. And conversely, if the food looks simple, you can use more ornate platters or plates.