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Old 11-23-2009, 08:58 PM   #1
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ISO presentation tips & techniques

It's said that we eat with all of our senses. As a home cook, I confess that I don't pay enough attention to preparing meals that are visually appetizing. Mostly because I don't know how. A sprig of inedible parsley on the side just seems kinda lame.

Are there some basic rules? Techniques? Do you have any helpful, maybe secret, tips? To: garnish, plating, serving, presentation and other elements of creating a feast for our eyes?

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Old 11-23-2009, 09:03 PM   #2
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Try to use edible garnishes, sometimes using an ingredient as the garnish. If something is flavored with lemon, a lemon slice, chives, some whole chives criss-crossed, etc. It helps the diner clue into flavors they are about to experience. Giving things some height helps, too.
A useful tool is Google, put in a dish, like chicken cordon bleu, then click on images. You can get LOTS of ideas by doing that.
Color helps, too. Having only 2 colors on the plate is kind of bland, but also don't want to overdo it, either. Sometimes, simple is best.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:37 PM   #3
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You can check here for some ideas. Lots of sites to choose from. Check out this article for some basic stuff, too. These two links should get you started and spark some ideas of your own. Just have fun with your food.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:39 PM   #4
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At a basic level, just try to arrange the food on serving pieces attractively.

If serving slices of turkey, arrange them evenly spaced in a 'shingled' pattern. Pureed veggies or mashed potatoes can be smoothed on top and marked with a decorative pattern.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:45 PM   #5
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There are no secrets to "plating." There are two approaches. 1.) If you are naturally artistic and creative, have fun! 2.) Copy examples from other chefs - Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, Saveur and Culinary Trends magazines are a good place to start by studying how they do it. It doesn't have to be the same foods, but look at the style and structure of the food textures and colors. Learn about three techniques to start, and use them over and over again in your everyday cooking until you can do them in your sleep, and then add three more. Learning from example is generally the best way, and with magazines such as these, you have examples from the very best chefs, and photos to work from whenever you need.

Good luck to you!
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:54 PM   #6
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for example:
chicken cordon bleu - Google Images
then you don't have to buy magazines.
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Old 12-03-2009, 04:37 PM   #7
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I don't know any of the rules - but here are some tips from the scott common sense site about how to have a "chic and cheap" holiday table including garnishes. I like the idea of cutting out fruits and veggies to be festive:

Food
• Don’t feel like you have to make 12 different dishes to make everyone happy. Healthy portions of a few tasty favorites should be enough for everyone. Remember at the holidays, get-togethers shouldn’t be about the food; they should be about the people.

• Do consider the visual appeal of your dishes. Garnish foods with fresh parsley or decoratively cut vegetables. Make sure your tossed salad has plenty of different colors in it. Not only is a colorful salad attractive, but it also means you’re getting a good balance of vitamins and minerals.
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Old 12-03-2009, 05:24 PM   #8
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Decorating food trays is fun, you don't have to be fussy. I love to line my trays with curly greens, pick a small bunch of chive blossoms leaving the stems long and then tie with narrow wired ribbon and set on your platter where it looks best to you...you can do this with herbs as well. Italian parsley,a tiny minature rose, fern..Anything you enjoy looking at...I love to hollow out bell peppers,cantaloupe and then fill with dip or tiny pieces of fruit wrapped in prosciutto. Hope this might help a little. Just trust yourself there are no set rules, create your own.
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Old 12-03-2009, 06:52 PM   #9
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I feel your pain, I am also not very creative. it is hard. Try to look thru cook books, just copy what you like. That is what I do. What can I say, it's hard. I was always good at math, but I am no artist.
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:12 AM   #10
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When I don't try, the food sometimes looks like swine swill. When I do try to spiff up the presentation, sometimes, the food devolves into an embarrassing train wreck that'd frighten away even a ravenous hog - symmetries skew, colors clash, structures collapse, etc.

One trick that has worked for me is: molds. Like stuffing a ramikin with grains and flipping it over onto a plate.

One rule I need to work on, as a pure matter of discipline, is: wiping a plate's rim clean before serving.

I like the suggestion to "study" cookbook/magazine photos. Maybe I should start preparing my meals with the intention of photographing it when done... that might put me in a good frame of mind...
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