Plating and presentation of dishes

Within what we could call creative cuisine, we can speak of an important part in the success of a dish, which is the plating and presentation of dishes, which is normally understood as "decoration" of dishes in a broad sense. Here we give you a useful guide to get started in this interesting art.

Since Roman times, with their taste for excesses and luxury, dishes began to be presented in more original ways, and the merit of a chef was valued for his ability to impress diners. There is talk of banquets in which a swan was served, inside which, once opened, a goose came, which in turn, when opened, let out live birds that flapped among the attendees, astonished.

Today, it is clear, these excesses are not styled, and the decoration tends to be as simple and elegant as possible, fleeing from baroque styles. Basically, let's get carried away by our intuition and good taste, but there are several rules that can guide us.

First of all, if we have enough crockery, the choice of plate is important. Normally, a very neutral plate, with a light pastel color, or even white, is better, and if it is without drawings, much better. The most decorated classic tableware is another option, as long as they have a simple and neutral decoration, and if possible only on the edges.

Personally I prefer large, flat plates, where the food, even a generous portion, has space around it and does not completely fill the used dishes. The quantities to serve is highly debatable. The portions in the hospitality industry are very measured, sometimes in excess.

New fashions tend towards small amounts, especially in the more experimental molecular cuisine. However, it is not the same if we are going to serve a pasta dish or a traditional stew, the quantities in this case may be higher.

We can adopt different basic composition forms:

Symmetrical composition. Referring to a bilateral and proportional balance between the parts of the plate, with a balance between the weight of the different components. There is equal weight in the two parts of the plate, like butterfly wings. It conveys a sense of order and harmony from Nature itself.

Asymmetric composition. We divide the composition into two asymmetrical parts, one with greater weight than the other. It transmits a greater dynamism and tension, let's say greater vitality.

Rhythmic composition. Repetition of main elements with alternation of other less important ones. Creates a dynamic and stimulating effect, which attracts a lot of attention.

Oblique composition. Lines that are transverse and turned with respect to the viewer-diner, which create a three-dimensional effect of depth, and which transmits great dynamism.


Scale composition. Elements that are repeated with different sizes, proportionally.

Based on these basic concepts, we can perform various types of composition:

Triangular or pyramidal composition. We play with heights, forming a pyramid on the plate, or a flat triangle.

Square composition, both horizontally and vertically. We establish the composition based on symmetrical squares or rectangles.


Circular or linear composition, with respect to a central point, we arrange the elements in a circular or oval shape, creating a very interesting dynamic effect.

These basic composition forms can also be combined on the same platter, creating more sophisticated presentations. Experience and know-how will guide us on the best way to present each dish.

A good recommendation, to begin with, is to rehearse at home different presentations with each dish, until we see the one we like the most, following the guide that I have given you in this post. The plating and presentation of dishes is almost an art in itself, it is not learned in a day, and it requires that we develop a certain aesthetic sense.

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Tags:  Recipes Desserts Selection 

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