Working the Plate

One of the greatest desires I have always had as a chef is to improve my plating skills. All chefs should have a basic understanding of how to dress a plate in order to maximize the effectiveness of food in working up an appetite. There are seven different categories in which food can be plated and they are as follows; the minimalist, the architect, the artist, contemporary European style, Asian influenced, the naturalist, and finally, dramatic flair.

The minimalist doesn’t necessarily use small portions, but they try to use minimal space in order to convey the feeling of the heart of the dish. Imagine a light bowl of miso-soup, surrounded by a simple rice ball, topped with nori, and just two stalks of celery. Simple Japanese cuisine, but high flavor.

My personal favorite, the Architect, uses the plate to stack elements of the dish together, in order to add size to a plate. This allows for a much grander looking dish and can sometimes give the impression of foods being more filling. Foods can be presented vertically or horizontally.

Next comes the “Artist“, where colors and shapes are used to give a plate definition, while still following a slightly Naturalist view. Artists, like to re-imagine dishes like a root veg puree, only instead of mixing the roots together, they are kept separate and then artistically brought back together.

The Contemporary European Style mixes old European recipes with modern technique, while giving the essence of filling, heavy foods a somewhat lighter role. Think of a wonderfully braised veal or lamb shank, served with a side of a light risotto with fresh tarragon and saffron. The homely effect is there, with heavier foods, but smaller portions are a must.

Obviously Asian influenced cuisine doesn’t really take much to explain, for anyone who has seen sushi knows about this. Still there is an aspect of simplistic yet exotic beauty in these foods. I remember my first Salmon roll, fresh salmon wrapped in avacado and ginger, further wrapped in crab shavings, rice, and finally nori. Easy and splendid. The same works for many other amazing dishes like shrimp tempura placed on an grilled asparagus salad.

The Naturalist is just that, a natural. They love keeping food in the original state with little to no modification. They present what’s truly beautiful, and natural.

Finally, we have those who love to just be dramatic. Dramatic Flair just has to be over the top, with little left to think about. It’s all about going beyond the norm, and conveying a sense of exhilaration while eating. Its not just food to them, it’s entertainment.

I’d like to note that I had the help of a wonderful book called Working the Plate, by Christopher Styler when I wrote this. I recommend it for anyone trying to improve their technique in plating, I know it has helped me substantially. You can pick up a copy of it here.

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            Show more [+]
            4 Program(s) Found
            Virginia College , Fort Pierce
            • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
            • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
            • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
            • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
            • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            3 Program(s) Found
            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits