How to Present Food Like a Five-Star Restaurant

Written by elizabeth sobiski
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How to Present Food Like a Five-Star Restaurant
Examples of professionally plated food. (food in plates image by Fabio Compagnoni from

You can duplicate the same techniques that a five-star restaurant chef uses with just a little practice and specialised knowledge. Restaurant chefs know that the way food is presented is an integral part of the dining experience. The key to food presentation is making the food look as good as it tastes. Every plate should have balance, focus and flow.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Plates, preferably white or earth toned

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  1. 1

    Use a large plate. The idea is not to fill the plate with food, but rather to have space to plate properly. Do not crowd or cram the food onto the plate. It is allowable, and even encouraged, for food items to touch, but not to the point of smothering.

  2. 2

    Think of a plate of food as being a smiley face. This is where balance, focus and flow come into play. For instance, when plating a main course, place the starch component at the 10 o'clock position. Meat goes at 2 o'clock and vegetables at 6 o'clock. For even more visual appeal, place the sauce for the meat down after the starch. Lay the meat on top of the sauce and use the vegetable after that.

  3. 3

    Use food that is visually appealing. If the food is all the same colour, it will not have the same impact as multicoloured food. For instance, a creamy heap of mashed sweet potatoes, with perfectly cooked lamb chops, enhanced by a sauté of spinach with garlic and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction seems much more tempting than fluffy white rice with a perfectly poached chicken breast glazed with a cream sauce. Plating begins with the menu; consider plating when deciding the menu.

  4. 4

    Layer food for height. For example, rest roasted Brussels sprouts against lamb chops that are leaning on a mound of whipped parsnips. All the various components of the plate can be seen and identified, with no single element completely covering the other.

  5. 5

    Include ingredients that are in the dish to garnish the plate. For instance, if the dish is a lemon-thyme roasted chicken, use a very thin slice of lemon and some fresh thyme to garnish the plate. This also lets diners know what flavours to expect in the food.

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