Learn to Style Food Like a Professional Chef in Eight Easy Steps

By Amy Aversa

Have you ever wondered how caterers and chefs manage to make food look so delicious? Have you tried at home to replicate their same recipes, yet found yours somehow lacking? A huge contributing factor in what makes the food they prepare so special is the presentation. Caterers know exactly how best to present food, garnish it, pair it, and plate it. With these tips you will be able to present your food in style:

1. Incorporate color: Don’t make the mistake of presenting four items on a place that are all in the same color range, like chicken paired with mashed potatoes and white beans. That screams “bland” to the diner! Instead, make sure to incorporate as much color as possible – this will keep your meals healthier while improving the aesthetics of the plate!

2. Odd numbers: Odd numbers of food items on a plate look better than even – this is a tip any home decorator also knows!

3. Garnish, garnish, garnish: What takes a plain meal from blah to wow? Garnishing, of course. You can garnish any dish; just make sure that the flavor and colors go along with the scheme. Try garnishing with shaved cucumber, spices, herbs, carrots, chopped nuts or fruit.

4. Play with shape: A salad gets a leg up when the vegetables are curled using a mandoline or even vegetable peeler. If you’re preparing a rice or grain side dish, shape the portion using a measuring cup to get a nice mound. Altering shapes like this adds creativity to a plate.

5. Sauce like a pro: The perfect drizzle of a sauce over a meat dish, or around the rim of a plate can make your entrée look much more professional. Take an old squeeze ketchup bottle and fill it with your sauce for easy application. The same method can be used to dab or drizzle chocolate or raspberry sauce on a dessert.

6. Practice portion control: Normal meals get normal, larger portions. For a special meal, keep the portions slightly smaller. Placing too much on the plate overpowers the presentation.

7. Stack it up: For meals at home, we usually place sides in clusters around a plate. To impress, try layering your meat dish on top of a bed of vegetables. The layering effect is different from what guests are used to, and gives the plate a professional touch.

8. Keep it clean: Always wipe the outer rim or edge of the plate with a clean moist cloth or sponge to ensure that no food is on it. Think of the edge of the piece as the frame for your masterpiece.Research it: If these tips intrigue you and you want to improve anymore, consider buying a book that will include inspiring pictures and tips on food presentation.

Amy Aversa is an expert New York City event caterer and owner of Sweet Basil Catering & Events. Get tips, tricks, and advice on how to plan your rockstart wedding at http://sweetbasilcatering.com

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