As a restaurant owner, one of your main responsibilities to your restaurant business is to provide a kitchen staff that has adequate training and experience working inside a restaurant kitchen. Cooking is one thing, but the presentation is also an important factor for restaurant service, therefore, your kitchen staff must know how to utilize different food presentation tips and tricks to delight your customers.
You must ensure that they can prepare your restaurant’s main cuisine and they also know how to serve it well. Cooking is a form of art, it is labor out of love and passion for food. And if done right, it conveys a message for you to your customers. Working on your food presentation means you’re also working on boosting your customer engagement and your kitchen staff’s morale.
A restaurant staff that’s high in spirit and encouraged to be more productive plus delighted and satisfied customers, are just some of the major benefits if you’re going to start working on your plate and food presentation. Read along to learn different tips and tricks for food presentation that will leave the same positive impacts on your restaurant.
Why is Food Presentation Important?
Before working on something, you must understand well how it would contribute to your restaurant business. This is for you to provide sufficient focus and passion regarding a specific matter, in this case, food presentation.
“People eat with their eyes” seems the most logical reason why food presentation is something your kitchen staff is working hard for, but you must also understand that gastronomical experience is not just about good food with good taste. Modern customers are now craving a multi-sensory level of stimulation through food. It is not just about #foodporn, they’re already being served different types of visual experience, but as every market goes, they will always want more. And it is your job to serve them “more”.
If it’s a customer’s first time to dine at your restaurant, you have this urge to impress them. First impressions are important! Customers will not be able to taste your food right away, so if it doesn’t look good as it tastes, it might affect your customer’s impression of your dish. Keep in mind that food presentation can make or break a dish, and it affects the whole dining experience of customers.
Food presentation serves as a platform for your kitchen staff, especially your cooks and chefs. Through their meticulously presented dish, they can express themselves in a way where they are most passionate about.
Since they are given the platform, this will positively impact the working culture and team morale of the whole restaurant. Keeping your employees happy and satisfied with your management is hard, especially within an industry where the employee turnover rate is usually high.
Five Key Elements of Food Presentation
Now that you know the importance of food presentation, it is time to know what makes up basic food plating techniques. Your whole kitchen staff must know what are the five key elements of food presentation, and if you have time, you must also learn about what makes a food presentation outstanding and stand out from the rest. Here are the factors your kitchen staff needs to work on with their food presentation.
- Shape and texture
- How easy it is to eat
Keep in mind that the different food presentation and plating techniques involve working on these five elements. Your kitchen staff might have to start working on the basics of these five elements to make the implementation of food presentation tips and tricks easier.
Top 10 Food Presentation and Plating Tips & Tricks
Here are the most effective and actionable food presentation and plating techniques you can share with your kitchen staff to improve their skill with food handling, preparation, and presentation.
Visualize and conceptualize
It may sound like a fantasy movie, but producing a food presentation that looks like it comes alive is almost like a sweet fantasy – especially for your chef. Food presentation requires technical skills and techniques as it’s not just an act of putting a dish together. It has to reflect a flow or even a representation of your theme.
Visualizing and conceptualizing your vision is how food presentation should start. You have to give your kitchen staff an idea of how you want these dishes to be presented, and how you want your customers to see them. Create a framework on how you want your vision to be executed.
Inspiration can come from drawings, sketches, and even trends in food presentation. You must work together with your kitchen team to identify what are the concepts that can be executed and what needs a little adjustment.
Stick to a theme
It’s not just your restaurant interior that needs to be aligned with your restaurant theme, it should be present on the plate that you serve as well. The way you present and plate your food should reflect your theme as a restaurant.
Make sure that the way you apply your theme to your food plating and presentation techniques will appear warm and welcoming to your customers. It should stimulate their sense and encourage them to try out your dish right away.
You also have to factor in the amount your customers are paying for. Don’t get the wrong picture, it’s not that you won’t provide an effort if you’re just charging your customers a small amount of income. But instead, if they are paying at least a higher than the average, then they’ll be expecting a higher type of service and that includes food presentation.
Bring out the color
Color is everywhere, the absence of color leads to white, and the presence of every color is black. Both of the mentioned colors are colors that affect customers psychologically. In reality, every color can stimulate a certain emotion with humans, meaning there’s a psychology behind every existing color that you use. That’s why food plating and presenting tips and techniques often talk about the proper use of colors.
Being one of the main elements for food presentation, your kitchen staff must be aware of how to wisely use colors and different color combinations. Though some are daring and trying out different bold color combinations, you and your kitchen staff must have an understanding of how you’ll make the colors work for your food presentation.
Aside from knowing the psychology of colors, one of the basic food plating techniques is using contrasting colors to bring the best out of each color on your plate. But you still have to ensure that proper color balance is still present to make your food presentation pop.
Using colors is not just for the food you’re presenting but also for the tools and utensils you’ll use. Make sure it will help, even improve, your food presentation concept. Know the advantages of using white dishes to bring the color out of your dish, but don’t be afraid to get creative and see how you can benefit from bold-colored dishes.
Tip: Stay away from using artificial colors as it leaves a negative impression about the dish you serve.
Be bold with texture
Playing with texture will make your dish more interesting. Make your dishes look more a bit sophisticated, but not too much that it will be too intimidating to eat. That small touch of salmon roe or caviar makes a huge difference for your dish.
It is the small and tiny details that give your dish a new look or even a new life. Just make sure that your kitchen staff will keep it toned down as making it too complicated to eat will surely affect the dining experience of your customers.
Make it simple
Make and keep your food presentation simple. Using too many plate presentation tips and skills could lead your kitchen staff on overcomplicating food presentations, which often leads to a problematic dining experience. Customers are in your restaurant, mainly, to satisfy their hunger and craves. If you serve them a dish that’s too complicated for them to eat, then it might ruin their experience.
Food presentation is a form of art, but what is art if it can’t be understood or appreciated by everyone? The main goal of food presentation is to make sure that the dish will be enjoyed by every customer, of any age, and gender. And keeping it simple is the key to make it happen.
You and your kitchen staff just have to continuously produce ideas that are simple yet still look interesting. Simplicity doesn’t mean that it has to be boring and bland. Working with the right ingredients and other food presentation factors shall help you pull out an idea that fits this solution.
Keeping it simple also makes it easier for your kitchen staff to highlight the main ingredient of every dish. This will also help your customers to appreciate their gastronomic experience with your restaurant. You did not just entertain them visually, but you also let their palettes on to a journey.
Keep it balanced
Everything in food presentation needs to be balanced, starting from the colors, textures, and most importantly – flavor. Don’t let different food presentation techniques pull you away from your main goal, which is to provide a great dining experience for every customer.
If your kitchen staff focused too much on plating and presentation, then it might lead to misuse and abuse of certain ingredients just to make the dish look good. That’s why your kitchen staff must know how to balance every factor of a dish to make food presentation work for them and your restaurant business.
Utilize the proper ingredients such as sauces and garnishes to bring the flavor out of your dish, and at the same time bringing some color onto your dish. Garnishes are made to enhance a meal’s flavor and appearance, and not to overpower it by using a ton of garnishes.
Look out for portion size
Make it easy for your customers to consume the food you serve by serving them a smaller portion size. Small portion sizes are one of the food presentation trends that’s here to stay because it makes it easier for your kitchen staff to design and style the dishes they serve.
Just keep it balanced and make sure that the portion you’ll serve is the one you advertised to your customers. Make sure that you won’t downsize your portions to the extent that it won’t be enough to satisfy your customers.
Use proper plating techniques
Your kitchen staff must be well informed on what are the different types of plating and the different types of dish that complement such technique. Here are some of the different plating techniques your kitchen staff can use with your dishes.
- Rule of Thirds – The technique of placing the center of your dish to either the left or right side, not on the center.
- Clock Method – Imagine the plate as a face of the clock, and place the protein(3 and 9), carbs(9 to 12), and vegetables (12 to 3) in its designated place.
- Proper layering – Always put the moist ingredients first on the plate to ensure that the presentation will hold and to preserve the quality of every ingredient in the dish.
Also, you can apply different types of sauce application on your food presentation to maximize the space on your plate without using unnecessary designing tools or ingredients. Here are some sauce plating techniques you can share with your kitchen staff.
- Accent dots
- Swirled sauce
- Smeared sauce
- Smeared accent dots
Lastly, there are different types of visual plating techniques that can improve and stimulate your customers’ appetite. These are some of the most proven visual plating techniques that your kitchen staff can use as their food presentation techniques.
- Build height on the plate
- Proper slicing of proteins
- Serve in odd quantities
- Color contrast and complement technique
Utilize the right tools and equipment
Stat with your plate. Make sure it’s the right size, color, and shape as it will affect the overlook of your food presentation. The size of your plate should be big enough to hold your dish, but should just be right to avoid making your portion appear smaller.
For plate color, learn how the contrasting and complementary colors work with the dishes you serve and the plates you’ll use to serve them. Dark-colored plates work better with light-colored dishes. Keep in mind how colors can stimulate and affect appetites.
Here are some of the tools you may purchase for your kitchen staff to have more creative freedom on their food presentation and plating techniques.
- Decorating brushes
- Precision spoons
- Garnishing kits
- Squeeze bottles
- Precision tongs
- Plating wedges
Create a great supporting garnish
Garnishes are important factors of every dish, it can also make or break the entire dish so you have to ensure that your kitchen staff is using the correct garnishing techniques to maximize this tiny detail for your dish.
In garnishing, it is not just about the dish or meal you serve, it is so much more. By using edible garnishes, you’re taking control over your inventory management and you help in reducing food waste in your restaurant. Make sure that your kitchen staff knows where to properly place this flavor-enhancing little detail on your dish.
Using garnish is a smart move for every kitchen staff, but it is important to remember that one should never clutter a plate or a dish with garnishes. Always keep your main ingredient highlighted and let your garnishes support and enhance its flavor and presentation.
Lastly, you must know what are the garnishes to avoid. Raw herbs, large chunks of fruits, especially citrusy ones, or garnishes that are too hard to apply are not ideal for garnishing. Your kitchen staff must also avoid types of garnishes that have strong odor and flavor, or if their element will affect the overall flavor of your dish.
No matter how good it looks on your dish, if it will drag down the flavor of your dish, better skip it. The presentation must not overpower or dominate the flavor of your dish.
Start finding and creating your style!
Customers love taking photos and sharing them within their circle. Delight your customers by providing them a dish that appeals to them on a multi-sensory level. Also, it’s time to take advantage of social media marketing. If your customers start posting visually appealing photos of your dishes, it will start gathering the attention of your potential customers. It’s free marketing handed over to you.
You may also ask if you can repost your customers’ posts and add them as UGC content on your restaurant website. It’s the domino effect that you want for your restaurant business.
Following different food presentation tips, tricks, and trends is a great stepping stone in finding your style. It is better that you establish your food presentation and plating techniques that will leave a mark on your customers and even in the industry. It’s such a satisfying feeling if even your competitors acknowledge the effort that you put into your food presentation.