Lesson 50: Plating Design

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Today was our first official day of Module 3!  It's kind of crazy that we're already almost half-way through the program and are no longer cooking "rookies".  It is always a surprise who the next chef-instructor will be, but today we had an extra special surprise.  We were all expecting Chef James to be our new instructor, but in walked Chef Allen!  Remember Chef Allen from Module 1?!  I haven't seen him since I presented my cream of broccoli soup and medium diced potatoes to him on the last day of the module, so we were all excited to see him walk through the door armed with a bottle of fantastik anti-bacterial spray :)

There couldn't have been a better chef to give us an introduction to plating design than Chef Allen.  He has had a lot of experience with food styling for magazines, catering, and food media.  He taught us all about balance, colors, textures, height, garnish, and overall presentation.  Everybody eats with their eyes first, so food presentation is more important than it sounds.  I made sure to absorb all of the information he gave us, since I know it will be especially important for my future career in food media.  

I have always loved plating dishes, mostly because I want people to react when they see the food I make even before they taste it.  At home, I daydream about creative ways to plate dishes.  I even go so far as to criss-cross wraps and sandwiches for lunch and garnish them with a fresh basil leaf.  Sounds nerdy, but food is my way to express myself.. it's my form of art.

Today, each table had a different plate to prepare and present.  We had to plate each portion using our own creativity and the basic plating rules that we were taught.  My table made tuna carpaccio with horseradish mayonaisse, microgreens, and fried capers.  We started out by pounding out the sushi-grade tuna into paper-thin sheets.  We had a lot of laughs as we pounded away, making a beat with each pound.  I believe that laughing in the kitchen is so important!  Cooking is clearly all of our passions and we are here doing what we love, so we might as well have fun with it, right?

It was finally time to plate our dishes.  My group plated 13 servings of tuna.  It was fun experimenting with different designs and placements.  I found it a bit difficult placing the horseradish mayo on the tuna so that it doesn't look messy or globbed on.  The mayonnaise was thick, so even when we used a squirt bottle, it wasn't coming out smoothly.  Here is one of the plates I presented.  I think it looks like a shield:

I really liked this one that [the other] Allison presented:

We collaborated our ideas and presented this last dish together:

Isn't the tuna rose pretty??!

Team 2 prepared and presented sea scallops with parsnip sauce, braised cabbage chiffonade, and pommes maxime.  I wish I could have taken a picture of every plate, but posting every single plate would have taken me hours!!   So, I posted the ones that stood out to me:

Team 3 prepared halibut with a warm vinaigrette:

I'm excited to get more practice in the next few classes with plating design.  I wonder who our chef for tomorrow will be--Chef James or another surprise??  We will see.....


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