7 Tips and Tricks for Unforgettable Meal Presentations

Nov 17, 2019 | Culinary, Fast-Casual, Foodservice Industry, Trends

As the “foodie” culture expands, guests expect not only expertly cooked dishes but also visually-pleasing meal presentations. And why not? People love to share photos of their meals on social media, particularly Instagram. This means that dishes that are delicious and attractive can set your establishment apart and earn word-of-mouth marketing. Even if you’re not concerned with trending on social media, thoughtfully composing your dishes shows your guests you care about their dining experience and the quality of your menu items. To make sure your dishes stand out, here are our seven tips and tricks for creating unforgettable meal presentations. 

Keep Portion Sizes Manageable

A good rule of thumb is to make sure at least one inch of the plate remains visible around the entire dish. While you might think you’re giving your guests a better value by overloading plates, much of that food ends up in the trash at the end of the night. Serving smaller, realistic portion sizes allows you to more deliberately arrange the food on the plate, and helps improve its perceived value. 

Create Color Contrast

Think of your dish with a painting that you compose. Visually-interesting and complete paintings contain the darkest darks and the lightest lights, even if those extremes take up a very small part of the painting. While you don’t need to include the entire color spectrum in each plate, you can use basic rules of color contrast to create attractive dishes. Thoughtfully pairing red, orange, and yellow colors with greens and blues add energy to the plate and make for a striking meal presentation. 

Use Odd Numbers

If you need to plate menu items like meatballs, scallops, skewers, or other self-contained elements, display them in odd numbers. Uneven numbers create visual interest and can be easily arranged into patterns. 

Select Plates to Best Show Off the Food

Your cuisine is a work of art; the plate is the canvas. Select plates that will attractively showcase your food without drawing focus away from the dish itself. For fine-dining establishments, you could even present your dishes under a cloche— a bell-shaped glass. Steelite International designs their cloches from the bowls of RONA wine glasses. In addition to adding a touch of elegance to your meal presentation, chefs also use a cloche to infuse smoke into the food, making for a memorable tableside experience and unique flavor. 

Consider Alternatives to Plates

Though you don’t need to get as creative as Food Network’s list of things restaurants use instead of plates, choosing unconventional plate alternatives like butcher blocks, or even eco-friendly options like banana leaves, can help make the meal memorable and reinforce your restaurant’s theme. For example, barbeque restaurants might use these Galvanized Fry Cups by American Metalcraft because they are reminiscent of homemade backyard smokers made from large galvanized steel cans. Rustic restaurant concepts might use wood caddies by Steelite International. These caddies come in a variety of sizes and stains to fit many different courses and can easily display condiments and utensils. 

Have the Right Tools on Hand

Creating artful dishes requires proper tools. You can use a CAMBRO dredge to dust garnishes, like powdered sugar, over a stencil to create a specific pattern on a dessert. For elaborate garnishing, Dexter’s Seven Piece Garnishing Tool Set creates attractive garnishes out of fruit, vegetables, and more to add texture to your plate. This set includes a vegetable peeler, single scoop Parisian cutter, butter curler, double scoop Parisian cutter, apple corer, lemon zester, and channel knife. Each tool features a stainless steel blade and a polypropylene handle making them easy to clean. Lastly, tools like these Stainless Steel Bar Tweezers by American Metalcraft can help you precisely place each garnish for the perfect look. 

Contact Elevation Foodservice Reps

If you’re looking for artistic ways to present your dishes, talk to us. Elevation Reps will help you select products well-suited to your establishment and create experiences your guests won’t soon forget!