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How to Become a Plating Master with International Culinary Studio

by | CAREER TIPS

A selection of highlights from Hosco and International Culinary Studio’s Eating with Your Eyes Masterclass 

The art of plating has come a long way. From traditional white porcelain and analogue clock presentation through to haute cuisine postage stamp meals on the corner of a large square envelope… to today, where even the rule book should be edible.

Creative chefs around the world are dishing up bold innovation to deliver a veritable feast for the eyes. From plates to slates and wood, offset presentation and masterful (learnable) skills with tools, they’re slicing, spreading, splattering and sprinkling a whole new paradigm in plating.

Whether you’re serving in a restaurant, catering, or feeding the family, you can pack the wow factor into every meal. We’ve taken the highlights from International Culinary Studio’s Eating with Your Eyes Masterclass with the formidable Chef Andy to serve you a selection of inspiring insights. 

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation.

Da Vinci didn’t wing it when he invented the aeroplane or the parachute. The essence of perfect plating lies in planning. From choosing the plate, to sketching out designs to pre-prepping ingredients and laying out your tools, there’s plenty you can do in advance to plate with more finesse (and less mess).  

Back in the day, traditional plating was white, round and “analogue” – so named because of the clock-like placement of protein, starch and veg. But a new day has dawned and today’s chefs are experimenting with plates and dishes of all kinds of shapes and materials, and choosing to offset or “deconstruct” traditional serving styles with unconventional placements and presentation.

According to Chef Andy, it’s all about broadening your horizons, getting creative and bearing in mind a few basic rules: horizontal, vertical or freeform? Choose one and stick to it. If you’re venturing onto the rim of the plate, don’t stick your finger in it when you serve… and if you’re adding small dollops or splashes to each side of the plate stick to uneven numbers. Why? It just looks better! Try it if you don’t believe us. 

A Question of Balance

If you’re planning the menu for your starter, main or dessert and are struggling with where to start, remember, it’s all about balance.

What’s the “hero” on your plate? By this, we mean meat, fish or vegetarian protein. Take this as a starting point and then consider the colours and contrasts you want to build around it. Think of thirds when it comes to proportions – a third for the hero, a third of starch and a third of veg. 

What about textures? The cooking methods you choose will determine these: are you puréeing or mashing in softness or upping the crunch with a tulle or wafer? And last but not least, what about the levels on your plate? Will you build in height by stacking?

Choose Your Weapons

Once you’ve assembled your masterpiece in your mind and figured out the ingredients and composition, it’s time to pick your tools. The general rule is that (clean) fingers should be used for carrying out plates. Full stop. For precise and pristine plating, you’ll want to think about tweezers and tongs, and if you’re anything like Chef Andy, you won’t go anywhere without your palette knife.

As saucing is a key element of any first-class dish, you’ll also want to get your hands on precision spoons, squeeze bottles and piping bags to ensure that you spread, splatter and smear in the right proportions.

Last, but not least, if you are creating height – use a mould. Leave the leaning towers and crumbling facades to avant-garde architects.

Leave No Trace 

There’s no greater accolade for a chef than a clean plate. Making everything on the plate edible is the beating heart of the wow factor. This includes garnishes. Gone are the days when folks want to push through a jungle of parsley or thyme sprigs.  Think about edible flowers, micro herbs, and even silver flecks to bring flare and sparkle to your dishes. And don’t forget to clean your plates before serving – wipe clean any smudges or fingerprints from the rim.

Ten Tips for Plating

Stick to Chef Andy’s golden rules to serve up the wow factor on every plate.

1. Plan your menu.

2. Choose the appropriate plate for serving.

3. Consider the quantities of each element.

4. Plan which style you will be using.

5. Draw up a visual design.

6. Place the items in the order you have designed.

7. Place the garnishes you have planned to use.

8. Check for colour, symmetry and texture.

9. Clean the rim of the plate.

10.  Keep it simple and serve with pride.

Now you’ve had a taster of the essence of plating, why not watch the full masterclass, and discover how to plate a starter, main and dessert? See Chef Andy’s creations come to life, and get inspired to plate with pizazz. Tune in to the Q&A at the end of the masterclass to get answers to questions asked by our viewers.

And don’t forget, you can enjoy the full selection of Hosco & International Culinary Studio masterclasses and courses at Hosco.com

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