Looking for some inspiration or ideas? We hope one or more of our photos will provide a spark.
Think small — as in small containers. They’re all the rage, and they provide a lovely way to set portion sizes. This was actually a deli salad I picked up at the last minute when I felt I needed one more side dish for a buffet luncheon I was serving.
The credit for this beautifully arranged platter goes to my Thai chef friend Sue. It’s Larb (a Thai ground meat salad), which by itself is not too attractive, but the gorgeous way she arranged the tomato slices, the scalloped edge cucumbers, the julienned carrots on top of the mixed greens is so artful. She placed the Larb itself on top of a bed of lettuce and mounded fresh mint on top. Food can be like a garden landscape. Clustering like things together makes them pop.
Sometimes, you’re not serving a crowd — it’s just you or perhaps two of you. This shows a snack tray that contains artfully arranged bits and slices of cheese, crackers, nuts, a few greens and a little dab of sauce. It’s a nice variety of tastes without a lot of quantity.
Puff pastry pizza topped with pesto, pepper, mozzarella. Rectangular tray. Minimal quantity, but maximum eye appeal.
3 types of fried cheese on a tiny bed of baby greens. Two lines of raspberry sauce on one side, an interesting design of another sauce on the left.
Artichoke heart, salami, olive, basil, tomato, mozzarella — all on a big skewer. It’s a meal on a stick. Note how they are on a rectangular platter, but placed at a diagonal, with lots of space between each one.
I do not recall where we had this dessert, but it was stunningly beautiful. The abstract form of a baked tortilla curved gently around the vertical custard. A few well-placed fruit pieces, and the exotic apostrophe designs in the raspberry sauce. Fabulous!
Here is a slightly different view. So far as I can remember, that was merely a coffee stirrer running through the hole and down to the raspberry. Since we didn’t try to eat it, I guess we will never know.
This is on here to remind you how attractive bacon can look if you cut it into uniform-sized pieces before cooking, rather than trying to crumble full slices later.
You don’t always have to serve salad family style. Particularly when I have a limited quantity — or when I want to be able to arrange pieces to suit me, I plate them myself. Be sure not to overpower the plate with the salad. Note the wide, thin pieces of Asiago cheese for garnish.
This is part of the Tasting Temptations served to us at the Greystone restaurant at Culinary Institution of America in California. Little bits of four different offerings, nicely laid out.
The soup (curried carrot) was served in small cups. There were six of us, so two plates with three little cups on each, were brought to the table.
Let me first say this isn’t something I would eat (rare Ahi Tuna), but I’ve included it here because it shows the stacking technique, with a little morsel of fried cauliflower off to the side like a fallen leaf, and the drizzled flavored oil gives the dish more presence without crowding the plate.
More stacking! The bottom layer is a flower design made from large thin slices of lightly steamed zucchini. Whipped cauliflower is next, with the swordfish plopped on top and garnished with microgreens. A thin butternut squash sauce is drizzled around the outside of the cauliflower.
I love Chinatown! If you’re ever in San Francisco in Chinatown, go to the Oriental Pearl on Clay Street. The food is fab, the decor is nice, and there are always beautiful garnishes, such as the carrot rose shown above.
There are those who will cringe at this picture, but I found it appealing for several reasons. It’s a bit unnerving to see the head on a whole fish. By moving the head to a different position, the eyes don’t stare at you and it doesn’t seem as “in your face.” The whitefish was cooked in a wood-fired oven with a Meyer Lemon sauce. Note the abstract design made with a bit of the lemon sauce on the plate. The eggplant was flavored with saffron. The delicate pile of saffron threads on the left side of the plate reminds you. Another sauce (I can’t remember what) forms a nice half circle by the eggplant.