Looks matter. Sure, it's just one factor but we can't deny its weight. Whether we're choosing a jacket or a car, we want it to please our eyes. And food is no exception. Yes, it should taste good, yes, it should be nutritious but why can't it be beautiful too?
Don't worry, you won't automatically turn into a 13-year-old Instagrammer if you admire the colors and arrangements of your dish.
The subreddit r/CulinaryPlating is a perfect example of that. Its member list has everyone from home cooks to professional chefs, and they all celebrate a gorgeous plate when they see one. Here are some of them.
Mango Tart W/ Whipped Coconut Ganache, Guava Cremeux, Fresh Berries, & Violas
Microgreen Summer Rolls
To learn more about r/CulinaryPlating, we contacted the moderators of the subreddit and they were kind enough to tell us more about the content as well as the people inside this online community. "We get such a huge variety of foods posted!" the mods told Bored Panda. "Lately, we've seen more Asian or Asian-inspired cuisine, as well as Scandinavian, as it's definitely on-trend at the moment."
"Traditional French cuisine is falling out of favor for food that focuses on clean, minimalist plating and bold flavors. Recently, we've had some ultramodern fine dining plates and some super interesting takes on classic dishes as well as some really simple, well-executed plates showcasing some absolutely classic flavor combinations. We love seeing the huge variety of food and creativity that comes with it on the sub. We're exposed to cultures and flavors we’d never even think of."
Apple And Coconut Spheres
Pear Poached In Red Wine, Hazelnuts Crumble, Lemon Gel, And White Chocolate Mousse!
Mango And Passionfruit Tart, Passionfruit Sauce, Lime Foam, Rasberry Coulis, Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
According to Unilever Food Solutions, a team of over 300 chefs, food plating begins with 5 basic elements.
First, there's creating a framework. That includes finding inspiration from, assembling a "practice plate", and developing your vision. Then, we should remember to keep it simple. Clutter can distract people from the main elements, confusing them about what to focus on.
Next, balance. Colors, shapes, and textures should not make diners overwhelmed (also, the presentation can't overpower flavor). Once we figure that out, we need to determine the right portion size.
And finally, it's time to highlight the key ingredient. Even though garnishes, sauces, and even the plate itself should get their fair share of attention, something has to lead the ensemble.
Smørrebrød With Swiss Moutains Potatoes, Vegan Mustard Mayo And Pickled Beetroot Cream
Turmeric + Cardamom Infused Rice/ Masala Sweet Potato Stuffed Pani Puri/ Date, Tamarind, Seed Oil Reduction/ Toasted Almond
Turnip Ceviche Mit Leche De Tigre, Sweet Potato, Coriander Oil, Roasted Corn
But the moderators say that it’s hard to create "rules" for plating, as it's so subjective. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and that's one of the things that make it so appealing.
"It's something we've all thought about a lot as we get asked this question fairly often. [Some of us] think that good plating starts with the produce — it has to be well prepared! After that, a nice balance of colors, textures, and height to showcase the produce and make it interesting to look at is key. Even a simple meal like a shepherd's pie can be really stunning if plated with care and precision."
Strawberry & Cherry Tomatoes Salad, Goat Cheese Mousse, Beetroot, Mint, Sumac
White Chocolate Cheesecake, Tarragon Cremeux, Blackberry Cremeux, Blackberry Gel, Tarragon Ice-Cream, Chocolate Crumble - Version 2
r/CulinaryPlating currently has 69K members. It's not the biggest subreddit but it's full of enthusiasts. "The community itself has a really amazing mix of experience, from brand new home cooks to Michelin-starred chefs based all over the globe," the mods explained. "However, we're really just a community of people who are super passionate about food! We love seeing people express their creativity through food and getting the chance to explore and discuss styles and techniques is unbelievably valuable."
The mod team is proud that anyone, no matter their experience with cooking and plating food, can come in and get advice and guidance. "We think it makes us a really unique subreddit. We also started a Discord server where we've been able to offer live lessons and mentorship to people wanting to learn and improve their plating, as well as contests and challenges to really push everyone’s creativity. It's been a really rewarding way to engage with the community."
To end things off, the mods highlighted something we all probably have experienced at least one time in our lives. Food is a really great way to bring people together and if you try to make dining even more memorable, your efforts won't go unnoticed. So give plating a try!