A Feast for the Eyes
Plating philosophy from Columbus’ most creative chefs
By Kate LiebersPublished July 27, 2012
Any chef worth his sea salt tantalizes taste buds by first tempting the eyes.
The aesthetic characteristic of a plate of food is the last part of food preparation, and generally takes the least amount of time. Still, considering their artful creations, Columbus chefs know that appearances should not be overlooked.
“That’s what really draws the diner in, seeing the dish and saying, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to dive into that,’ or ‘Oh, wow, I don’t even want to touch that – it looks so pretty,’” said Brett Fife, executive chef at Lindey’s. “You’re putting something on the plate to get them excited about what they’re going to eat.”
As an extension of the chef’s artistic expression, meal presentation showcases the passion that a chef has for his or her work.
“A well-executed, nice-looking plate certainly conveys a sense of pride from the chef,” said Ben Russell, chef at G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar. “I know for me personally, I certainly want that to come through with the meticulous touches that you put into something.”
How that pride is conveyed, however, can vary as much as the chef’s creativity. Some restaurants have kitchen utensils as unique as the ingredients to attain that perfect look. Above all, chefs recognized that simplicity has a big role. Chef and co-owner at Till, Magdiale Wolmark said that when the meal is made from rich, nutritious, and well-seasoned food, a diner’s appetite is more likely to be satiated sooner.
“If you see something and it looks small, it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be filling or satisfying,” Wolmark said. “A lot of times I find that the exact opposite is true: if there’s a big plate, they’re hiding something.”
Yet keeping a plate looking simple is not always a simple task.
“At M (at Miranova), some of the presentations that we do, we can tend to get outlandish and dress it up with oils and micro greens, but sometimes doing the more simplistic things is harder,” said Ian Rough, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants Regional Chef. “That’s where technique comes in.”
Serving food with inedible components, however beautiful, is not encouraged. Neither is serving overwhelmingly large portions or seasoning the rim of the plate.
“I want everything on the plate to be eaten,” Rough said. “You can’t really eat a giant piece of rosemary. It generally doesn’t taste very good.”
If it’s unnecessary to the flavor, it’s unnecessary to the appearance.
As familiar as each chef was with the saying, “You eat with your eyes first,” they also agreed on another idea: In the end, taste is what matters most..