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.

Featured Culinary Schools

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    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.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
            • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
            • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
            • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
            • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
            • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
            • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
            • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            1 Program(s) Found
            • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
            • Ensures that service members, their spouses and veterans can maximize their military education benefits.
            • Gives students the option to customize monthly payments to fit their budgets and lifestyle.
            • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
            • Allows alumni to enroll in any future program at a reduced rate.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses