23 September 2011

Day 29: Basic Presentation

It was fitting that our last day of Culinary Foundations 1 featured a basic lesson in plating, or as the French say, le cuisson fancy dancy. It was the first time and, probably, the last time the term "negative space" will be used during my cooking education.

Obviously, this isn't something one normally does at home. However, presentation was my first recognition that there was more to food than cooking and eating, and I've always been fascinated by how TV chefs drizzle a little sauce here and stack a little there and come up with a visual that equals anything you'll find in a modern art museum. Better, in fact, because you can A) take a picture of it, and B) eat it. Everybody wins.

Our chef-instructor demonstrated four plating styles using the same ingredients: chicken, carrots, red and green bell peppers, couscous, reduced chicken stock, and basil to garnish.

Traditional plating
Basically, the entre at 6 o'clock, starch and vegetables at 10 and 2, the sauce over the entre, and garnish really tying the room together. If the clock metaphor looks wrong in the picture, that's because I took it from the side.

Nouvelle plating 
Circa 1960-70s. The sauce goes down first, with the other ingredients "floated" over. Entre goes over the starch in dead center, with the vegetables and garnish artfully splayed out around the circumference of the plate.

Stacked plating
Apparently, three things reached meteoric heights in the 1990s: gangster rap, alternative rock, and food on plates. The entre goes over a mound of starch with the vegetables arranged to give the appearance of structure and height. Sauce is drizzled artfully and the garnish is placed similarly to how skyscraper architects would place an antenna atop their buildings just to nab a new world record. I'm looking at you, Willis (née Sears) Tower.

Displacement plating
Displacement is our chef-instructor's term. I think These Ingredients Don't Like to Share plating also works. Here, the entre takes up the center, and every other ingredient takes their ball and goes to their room. Also, square plate!

1 comment:

  1. I really don't like the displacement plating. It looks like someone with elements on the spectrum who doesn't like the food to mix put it on the plate.