At-Home Gourmet: How to Plate-Up Like a Pro

gourmet dining chef plating food
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As dining in continues to be our only option, foodies everywhere are getting fancy with their presentation and taking a leaf out of the fine dining book. Going gourmet is all about seeing your food as art and not just a means to an end. It’s pure, edible luxury that savours the experience of eating, making, and displaying your dish, and it can be achieved with almost any meal, from the extravagant to the everyday.

If you really want to have the gourmet experience at home, you’ll need to plate like a pro and there’s a real art to it too. We’ve gathered a few handy tips on how to plate an Instagram worthy dish...

rustic green dinner plates

1. Choose the Right Plate

  • What size? It needs to be big enough to allow your dish to do all the talking, however it's a fine line, too large and your plate will appear empty. Keep in mind how you're going to utilize any blank space with sauce swooshes and splatters; you want your plate to frame and complement your overall dish

  • What colour? White plates are the most popular as they create high contrast and provide a neutral backdrop, however if you do opt for a colour consider how it may affect the look of your dish. Black alters a diner’s perception of the dish in front of them and gives an impression of large and generous portions, whereas bright tones such as yellow and orange subconsciously encourages diners to finish their plates, so they’re often used in children’s dining

  • What shape? Round plates are the standard and traditional choice as they're easier to craft at a potter’s wheel and a lot of culinary connoisseurs will tell you that food just looks better on round plates. However, square plates do make a bold statement with their sharp angles and visually raises the expectations for the food ahead, although purists may argue that right angles have no place at a dining table
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2. Think Before You Place

  • Use the 'clock method’ by picturing a clock face from the diner’s perspective; protein goes between 3 and 9, carbs go from 9 and 12 and vegetables between 12 and 3

  • Use moist ingredients as your base. Runny food, such as sauces or purees, move during delivery if they aren’t anchored down by other ingredients, so they are best used as a base for sliced meat or vegetables

  • Serve in odd numbers. It almost goes against every rule in the book, but odd numbers for small servings like shrimp, vegetables or bite-sized appetizers give great visual appeal. Exclusive restaurant secret: diners actually perceive they’re getting more food when served in odd numbers

  • A real gourmet trick is to create little moments on your plate with fork-sized nibbles that combine your entire dish into one single bite. Not only delicious but they really up the overall appearance of your dish

  • It’s important to try and not overcrowd your plate. Gourmet food is all about experiencing different tastes and textures in one dish whilst keeping it simple. There’s a fine line between success and disaster, so find your focal point and add accompanying ingredients that play a complementing but supporting role
gourmet dining plate
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3. It’s All in The Details

  • Think about the affect the colour of each component will have on your plate’s overall appearance, leafy vegetables or brightly coloured fruits make wonderful accents. Remember to think about complementary colours such soft blues and yellows or bold reds and greens and ensure your plate colour is in harmony with your dish

  • Although stacking food isn’t as in-vogue as it was a decade or so ago, it’s still important to think about the height of your dish as it still holds plenty of visual appeal. Taller components can be balanced out by leaning vegetables and playing with interesting angles

  • Don’t forget about texture. By contrasting smooth purees with fluffy rice or crunchy potatoes or topping your protein with crumbling cheese, an eye-catching combination of textures is what really makes a gourmet plate pop
gourmet dining plate
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4. Get Creative with Sauces

  • Now you’ve plated your dish it’s time to get really creative. By using a squeeze bottle, brush or spoon you can use your sauce as a medium and ‘paint’ on expressive strokes that look as good as they taste

  • Use the rule of odds if you go for dots or splodges or lightly drizzle over the main components so each bite gets a bit of sauce

  • Not into splodges and splatters? Try swooshing. Place a heaping spoonful of sauce (or something similar like cream, hummus or pesto) and then quickly drag your utensil (small spatula or spoon works best) through in a smooth, curved motion. You can go for a bold ‘u’ shaped swoosh or something subtler like a comma
gourmet dining plate
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5. The Final Flourish

  • It wouldn’t it be a true gourmet meal without a garnish or two. So much more than an ill-thought piece of kale or orange slice thrown on at the end, a garnish should complement and add something a little extra to your dish

  • Is it edible? You want to make sure every single morsel of food is eaten, so think about edibility when you’re choosing your garnish. Ultimately, they’re there to enhance the overall flavours of your plate, so choose wisely and don’t just go for looks

  • Place with purpose. Don’t just throw on your garnish half-heartedly right at the very end. As with every other step in the plating process, you want every decision to be thoughtful and considered