If you’ve ever searched the #food on Instagram or follow a few food pages, blogs and the like you’ll probably have seen the most common and least interesting food glamorized simply by the way the food is decorated.
I’ve often wondered how some people can achieve such wonder with their plates. Like the food looks so restaurant worthy that I’m almost always tempted to eat it through my phone screen.
Well, I finally got the answer. And I found it in the Maggi pop-up event that held on the 29th of July, 2018 at the indoor sports center in the University of Lagos. There were different chefs there and the whole place smelt like wonderful hot food. Somehow, I found myself at the plating table.
I know the word plating might seem a bit strange to a few at first. I felt that way too and I was wondered if the word could be wrong but a sign board proved me wrong. Anyways, I was introduced to this wonderful art by an enthusiastic and passionate chef called chefzoeyblawq.
According to her
, “Plating is an art. You eat with your eyes before you eat with your stomach.”
She said that she doesn’t really know ahead of time what she will be plating. She went on to say that Unilag was the sixth university where she was showing people how to plate.
I learnt how to plate jollof rice, chicken and salsa. I didnt know that salsa was a kind of sauce. I always thought it was a dance. But it is a very interesting sauce. There’s more about it towards the end of this post.
She used to plate back while she was home in Owerri before she went to culinary school. And she loved to plate for her Dad (sometimes for extra cash 😜)
So Let’s Get Started With Her Tips:
1) In the culinary world, you plate or serve your food on a white plate.
A white plate makes the colours of your food ‘pop.’
2) Visualise your plate like the face of a clock. It should have all four quarters of the clock (12, 3, 6 and 9). Twelve will be the part that faces your guest.
3) Protein should always be in your upper clock face (for me that’s the twelve). It should be the first thing your guest sees.
Chef Zoeyblaq says,”In the culinary world, protein is the key part of any meal so it should be the largest because we need it for development but here in Nigeria, we take the carbohydrate in large portions which is not good and that is why a lot of us have big stomachs which is bad for our slay mama vibe 😁.
3) Have more vegetables in your plate. You’ll get fuller quickly without the carbohydrate.
4) You should use a squeezer to squirt your sauce on your plate. Where that is absent, you can improvise with a nylon or ice bag that has been tied in a triangular shape and that had a hole for a nozzle.
Guess what sauce we used for the chicken: Ketchup. Sweet beautiful tomato ketchup 😁
5) It’s better to place your sauce on the plate than on the dish to be served because, while moving the plate to your guest, the plate could shake and the sauce could lose it amazing presentation look.
6) Rather than just squirting your sauce in random circles, make a pattern with it. Remember, plating is an art not a chore. Go wild with your artistic abilities.
7) She didn’t have vegetables for her meal but she had the ingredients to make a salsa. A salsa, according to wordweb, is a spicy sauce of tomatoes, onion and chilli peppers that accompanies Mexican food. We were using the salsa to accompany our Nigerian dish called ‘Jollof rice and Chicken.’
Salsa is a good garnish for rice and it goes good with chips (Doritos, pringles, Bibian Chizzy e.t.c) For her salsa, she didn’t have tomatoes but she did give us the list of what a basic salsa ought to include:
2) Bell Peppers
4) A little garlic
5)Black pepper (not Cameroon pepper)
6) You could add some lemon for an A-m-a-z-i-n-g zesty taste.
She sliced and diced her ingredient into really small pieces so that they looked like cute little purses for chicks
8) Use some garnishing leaves to finish the dish and give it a superb look. Whatever leaf you use must be edible. It must also be something that compliments the dish and that doesn’t affect the taste of the food. (Don’t garnish traditional soup with spring onion. Do not try that)
Some other note worthy things:
1) Parsley is the most common (worldwide) garnishing leaf.
2) Spring onion is the number one plating vegetable in Nigeria. Mostly because it is almost tasteless.
3) Lemon enhances the taste of white meat e.g chicken, fish and turkey.
4) You could use a fork or spoon to aid in decorating your sauce. Each instrument will produce an interesting unique pattern.
5) Soak your plate in hot water before plating so that while you plate, your food will be warm.
6) Always plate in odd numbers. Three pieces of chicken instead of two or four. Because it gives the illusion of more. And you know Nigerians like jaraa 😋
7) Wipe while you work. Keep your dish and environs clean.
8) One more thing, don’t forget to glaze (with a little oil) the inner part of the plate you will use to make your rice, spaghetti or whatever so that your food comes out in a smooth, stable and solid shape without spilling.
She called her master piece:
Tomato Sauce Rice
So there you go…
Hope you enjoyed your crash course on the beautiful art of plating. I did try to plate spaghetti but it didn’t come out as I expected but I will keep trying. Practice makes perfect afterall.
Interesting fact about Chef Zoeyblaq:
She doesn’t break her spaghetti. She cooks it the way she receives it.