We experience our food with our senses even before we taste it. As one of our senses, sight and the visual appeal of food have a tremendous impact on the enjoyment we experience when eating and dining out. This appeal also affects the price we are willing to pay for the food we are being served. That is why plate presentation is such an important part of food service.
Garnishes play a significant role in this presentation, and there are many ways to garnish a plate depending on the food being served. Herbs, vegetables, berries, fruits and sauces are popular garnishes for a variety of dishes. Chocolate curls, whipped toppings, flavored plate sauces and cocoa or powdered sugar dustings make great dessert garnishes.
Overall, garnishes provide a pop of color, texture, dimension, identification and flavor to a plate.
- Color – Sometimes the perfect flavors lack a variety of color. If your plate is full of mostly tan or white foods, for example, adding chopped red pepper, a yellow citrus wedge or green broccoli bud will bring the color you need for it to be eye-catching.
- Texture – Does your meal need something to add variety to the mouthfeel? Try adding a complementary flavor with a different texture. Some ideas include an onion ring, tomato wedge or green leaf.
- Dimension – Think of your plate as a 3D masterpiece. There should be some height and width to the food you are putting there. Here’s an example of how to make a roast dinner a 3D masterpiece, for example. Slice the roast into one-ounce pieces, then shingle several pieces of the roast over a piped pile of mashed potatoes. Top with gravy and sprinkle with parsley to add even more height, width and appeal.
- Identification – A bowl of savory carrot soup and pureed squash look very similar. To help diners feel more confident and excited about what is in front of them, add something on top that leaves no surprises as to what they’re getting. Put a carrot curl on top of the carrot soup to identify it, for example, and a grilled squash slice on top of the pureed squash.
- Flavor – Of course, garnishes can enhance the flavor of foods, as well. Sauces, gravies, citrus wedges and chopped basil, for example, all add an extra boost of flavor to any dish you are serving.