Because meals are a sensory experience, the appearance and presentation of a dish matter just as much as the flavour in haute cuisine. Careful attention to detail can create dishes that are a feast for the eyes.
Excellent meal presentation is as crucial to the culinary appeal of a dish as does the flavour and aroma of the dish itself. Renowned chefs, first-class restaurants, and haute cuisine caterers alike understand the value that presentation does to a meal. A good meal is a feast for the senses, a treat to the eyes as it is to the tongue.
Meals are a sensory experience. A visually exciting meal appeals to more than one of the diner’s senses. It draws attention to itself and invites the guest to partake of it. All the visual elements of a dish must come together to attract the eye of the viewer, and each element must be carefully considered for both its purpose and aesthetic appeal.
Crystal-clear glasses, sumptuous clear flatware, and beautifully patterned resin serving trays all play a role in maximising the appeal of the dishes they serve. Pristine and visually pleasing dinnerware creates an appealing ground for food.
Aesthetic balance is the key to making a dish look appealing, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the contrasts between the dish and its plate. Because they serve as the backdrop for many dishes, plates must match and complement the appearance of the dish served on them. A plate that’s too small compared with the dish would seem too crowded, whereas dishes that are too big will make the dish look sparser than it is.
Proportions and Embellishments
One of the many gold standards in food presentation is dividing the plate into quarters. The lower two quarters would be reserved for the main protein course, starch dishes would be placed on the upper left corner, and vegetables would be placed on the upper right. This emphasises the main dish while leaving the side dishes as complements.
Composition matters. Complementary colours and sizes can help food stand out. Dishes do not need to be overloaded with colour to be appealing. A few contrasts created by side dishes and garnishes can make a dish look spectacular. Colour is also not the only way to create contrast in a dish. Complementary textures can create immense visual appeal while hinting at the delectable mouthfeel that awaits the diners.
Especially creative chefs can include daring garnishes, including those that seem purely decorative but are entirely edible. Nasturtium flowers, which taste like watercress, can add a splash of colour and texture to salads while being a unique ingredient by itself.
Sauces should be drizzled on food sparingly to maintain its appearance. Gourmands who wish to sample more sauces should receive it in a dedicated container.
Aesthetic considerations are a defining trend in haute cuisine. Today’s gourmands expect that their food is served in the most impressive manner possible, with garnishes and other embellishments that make the food look as good as it tastes.
Presentation and aesthetic appeal is ultimately a complement to the flavour of the food. To ensure a fully immersive experience, food should be garnished quickly and served hot. A true culinary masterpiece would strike the perfect balance between aesthetics and flavour and gives a new meaning to “good enough to eat.”