Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
emhahn

3 Most Important Elements of a Plate...

Recommended Posts

I always used this simple philosophy when I was training cooks in the kitchen. It seemed to work......... But I'd like other good ones if you've got them.....

The three most important things about every plate that goes out of the kitchen are: *(and they're not in exact proportions)

1. Presentation is 50% - if it looks like shit, it's going to taste like shit. Presentation therefore is most important.

2. Taste Good is 25% - if it's burnt. Start over. If it's too salty. Start over. Every table has a salt & pepper shaker, go under to all regards.

3. If it's supposed to be hot, better be hot. If it's supposed to be cold, better be cold 25% - most important if it's supposed to be cold and got stuck under the heat lamp. Wilted anything doesn't look good, doesn't taste good, and isn't anything to be proud of......

Oh well, just a simple statement........ I'm up for hearing some other good examples if you've got some, throw on here......

Eric

www.RestaurantEdge.com


Edited by emhahn (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about the plate/setting in itself? I find this also very important.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
if it looks like shit, it's going to taste like shit

Not to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I meant by looking like shit (Fat Guy) is sloppy presentation...... i.e: The plate is dripping more sauce from the edge than the entre from the sides.........

(I should have been more specific)

Eric

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got it. What I'm saying is that pretty food can taste like shit, and ugly food can taste great. Yes, care in presentation can indicate care in preparation -- but it's no guarantee of quality. And there are some foods that will always look like shit, like chili-dogs, even though they're great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1. Presentation is 50% ... Presentation therefore is **most important.**

2. Taste Good is 25% - if it's **burnt. Start over.** If it's too salty. Start over. Every table has a salt & pepper shaker, **go under to all regards.**

Eric -- I'd have to respectfully disagree with more than one of the statements you made, understanding that we are still addressing generalities.

Presentation is the most important part of a dish? Like Fat Guy, I strongly disagree with that. Unless the taste of a dish is very good, presentation cannot salvage it, for me. In other words, presentation might be helpful if the dish is delicious-taking, but not before that point.

Obviously, if a dish is burnt, one has to start over. :hmmm: What is one going to do? Scrape the burnt bits off and try to overwhelm the residual effects of the charring? Try to pass the dish off as having been intended to be smoked? That's a natural point, without which I am not sure one can say one operates a passable kitchen.

As for leaning on the side of undersalting, that depends on how ambitious you want to be and how confident you are in your ability to correctly season something in the kitchen, among other things. I suppose it depends in part on your clients too. Note that many restaurants in France at a certain level do not offer salt and pepper shakers.

Potentially key aspects to a meal, among others, that you have not mentioned are below. Note I do not believe percentages are necessarily the best way to communicate relative significance.

-- Conception: A significant aspect of the dish occurs before it is prepared for the client in larger quantities. What products are brought together in a dish, and what is the dish and its method of production? Does the dish fit within a larger framework for the restaurant's style, if there is one?

-- Aroma: Perhaps you intended this to be included in taste. However, if you did not, the aroma of certain dishes can be important to them. In my mind, aroma is an underexploited part of a dish.

-- Progression of meal: The way different dishes in a given meal flow/otherwise interact with one another. Obviously, it is wrong to serve a truffe en croute with a robust sauce before a delicate turbot dish in a meal, in most cases. I appreciate this aspect of the meal is not necessarily within the kitchen's control (e.g., due to taking of orders), but it could be if more communications were put in place with the dining room team and if there are tasting or similar menus being offered by the kitchen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

May I add a question to emahn's? Possibly one that he may have followed up with (if I may be so bold!)

I agree with you, Cabrales and FG, that presentation cannot make a dish. But here is my question, can it break a dish My personal opinion? Bad presentation can make mediocre food taste worse and good presentation can make good food taste better. But we're not talking about me, we're talking about how typical restaurant clientele react, correct?

So how would you finish these on behalf of the majority of restaurant going people (your opinion , ofcourse):

Bad Food+Bad Presentation = Bad

Bad Food+Mediocre Presentation = ?

Bad Food+Good Presentation = ?

Mediocre Food+Good Presentation = ?

Mediocre Food+Mediocre Presentation = Mediocre

Mediocre Food+Good Presentation = ?

Good Food+Bad Presentation = ?

Good Food+Mediocre Presentation = ?

Good Food+Good Presentation = Good

I only filled out the obvious ones!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If it's too salty. Start over. Every table has a salt & pepper shaker, go under to all regards.

Underseasoning is one of the worst crimes you can commit in a restaurant kitchen. The ability to season correctly is the mark of a good cook. It really annoys and disappoints me if I have to add salt at the table.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It really annoys and disappoints me if I have to add salt at the table.

Sez the guy who salts his food before tasting it! :biggrin:

v

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Never!! When did I do that?

Sitting next to me. Afraid I'm never going to let you forget it :rolleyes:

v

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OH Andy!!!!!

Vanessa can't keep secrets!  :laugh:

Hey B'dog, I was about to write all kinds of nice things about you.... :raz:

v

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bad presentation can make mediocre food taste worse and good presentation can make good food taste better.

What?!?!?!?!

I don't understand how presentation can affect the taste of food at all. The experience, the enjoyment, the perception, etc., sure -- there have been plenty of experiments where people were given blue food or whatever and didn't enjoy it, and I can see how someone would enjoy beautiful food more than ugly food. But actually taste better? No. All other things being equal, it tastes the same.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Never!! When did I do that?

Sitting next to me. Afraid I'm never going to let you forget it :rolleyes:

v

Oh I remember, it was when my hyper-sensitive senses of smell and vision alerted me to the fact that there was inadequate salt on the food, or was it because I'd had far too much to drink and forgot what I was doing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I've been able to determine, with some variation the 3 most important elements of a plate are Silicon, Titanium and Iron. :hmmm:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey B'dog, I was about to write all kinds of nice things about you....  :raz:

v

See what i mean...can't keep secrets ho ho ho :laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't understand how presentation can affect the taste of food at all. The experience, the enjoyment, the perception, etc., sure -- there have been plenty of experiments where people were given blue food or whatever and didn't enjoy it, and I can see how someone would enjoy beautiful food more than ugly food. But actually taste better? No. All other things being equal, it tastes the same.

Fat Guy -- I might differ with that assessment. If a dish is delicious to begin with, visual elegance and beauty can affect a diner's experience from a dish. I don't believe one's senses are divorced from another; they might be generally distinct, but the interrelationships are more complex, for me at least, than a "presentation does not affect taste" analysis.

Secondarily, presentation can affect taste if the placement of different components of a plate causes negative or positive effects (i.e., externalities in economic parlance), or affects the temperature of adjacent components. Presentation can also affect whether the diner *is likely* to take in this part of the dish with that, or take different parts separately. For example, if a piece of fish is served on pureed potatoes, I am more likely to take a bit of the potatoes in my third or fourth bite of the dish. However, if the potatoes are on the side, I might wait a bit longer. Obviously, there is input and decision-making by the diner, but the presentation (i.e., physical arrangement) of a dish can increase the odds one way or the other. Stacking different components of a dish has different communicated aspects to a diner than a more "spread out, horizontal-plane" presentation.

Third, presentation can add intellectual components to a dish. In Laurent Gras' foie gras with licorice dish, the raw lettuce is served on the side. This has two functions at least -- it highlights the Vietnamese-spring-roll wrap-type underpinnings of the dish, and it prevents the saucing in the foie from tainting the crispness and refreshing aspects of the lettuce. In M Bras' "ombre et lumiere" dish, the monkfish and its pearly tones are set against a very dark-colored sauce. He intends the presentation to remind people of the starkness and beauty of his native landscape, the Aubrac region of France. Of course, the sauce could have been spooned only on top of the monkfish, but the "filling of more of the plate" with the intensity of the sauce has intellectual dimensions for the chef and for the informed diner.

For each of the above reasons, I believe presentation is highly significant to a dish


Edited by cabrales (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure, if you want to characterize decisions like how much sauce to put on a piece of fish, and whether to put the sauce on the fish or the fish on the sauce, as "presentation," then there's no question. But I consider those to be culinary decisions that happen to affect presentation. If by presentation we mean the purely cosmetic aspects of a dish -- which is what I think is relevant to this distinction -- and if by taste we are referring to the objective, physical reality of food, then it is simply impossible for presentation to affect taste. It affects psychology, which affects the perception of taste. But it does not alter the molecules in the dish or in the body's taste receptors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bad presentation can make mediocre food taste worse and good presentation can make good food taste better.

What?!?!?!?!

I don't understand how presentation can affect the taste of food at all. The experience, the enjoyment, the perception, etc., sure -- there have been plenty of experiments where people were given blue food or whatever and didn't enjoy it, and I can see how someone would enjoy beautiful food more than ugly food. But actually taste better? No. All other things being equal, it tastes the same.

I think presentation can affect the way people are either predisposed to either like or dislike the dish. If you make a beautiful presentation to an uneducated consumer they are predisposed (or intimidated) into liking the food - as long as it is not terrible. For average quality food presentation can make it seem more grand to many consumers.


Edited by Craig Camp (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think presentation can affect the way people are either predisposed to either like or dislike the dish.

Absolutely. I'm one of those people. Experience teaches me that crappy presentation is a likely indicator that you're dealing with a crappy kitchen. And my enjoyment of a meal is about a lot more than just the taste of the food. But as a baseline, I don't see a meaningful way around the form-versus-substance distinction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But as a baseline, I don't see a meaningful way around the form-versus-substance distinction.

Soup.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think presentation can affect the way people are either predisposed to either like or dislike the dish.

Absolutely. I'm one of those people. Experience teaches me that crappy presentation is a likely indicator that you're dealing with a crappy kitchen. And my enjoyment of a meal is about a lot more than just the taste of the food. But as a baseline, I don't see a meaningful way around the form-versus-substance distinction.

I think when the consumer is uneducated about food they can be intimated into thinking it is good. If you are not familiar with high cuisine and everyone at the table is oohhing and aahhing at the presentation you are likely to convince yourself that the food is good. Why else would a restaurant go through the effort of 'unveiling' all the dishes on a table at once?

My mother lives in a small mid-western town where presentation means that the steak hangs over the side of plate. When I take her to a top restaurant in Chicago or Italy she is so blown away by how the food looks I don't know if she actually can taste it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At least she doesn't say, "Such small portions!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, if presentation doesn't include whether something is placed on top of another thing, or beside it, then what does it refer to? Whether a piece of steak has charred criss-cross markings on it or not (that obviously extends beyond visual effects)? If the relative placement of food products is not presentation, then what is presentation -- whether the sauce is wiped from the edge of the plate? whether the garnishings look pristine? whether the plate is clean? Those are baseline physical attributes without which one does not have a serious restaurant. They are not presentation aspects, in my eyes.

In some egg amuses, the inside of the egg is actually cooked in the shell and there the shell typically has to be served. In others, they spoon scrambled or similar eggs (oeufs brouilles) into a cleaned out shell and add other things. The latter presentation is used by Veyrat in some dish where nutmeg is infused table-side, and also by Boyer in his oeufs brouilles avec caviar. The presentation does affect the taste -- the shape of the container (the shell) affects the relative proportion of egg vs. other ingredients that a diner could choose to take in. It also affects how much of material can be taken in in any one spoonful.

A good example of an excellent presentation is the Blue Hill use of a ceramic egg holder depciting spring colors and a little yellow chick. That enhanced the taste of the dish for me, because taste has intellectual components to me and complementary flavors and visual effects appeal.


Edited by cabrales (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×