If your food doesn’t taste good then even the most wonderful presentation isn’t going to turn the meal into a triumph. However, there is also no doubt that the way you present your food does make a big difference and can considerably enhance the overall experience for your guests. The good news is that you don’t have to be a creative genius to turn your dining table into a real treat. There is plenty of inspiration out there if you keep your eyes open.
Copying the Professionals
Restaurants and cookery programmes both provide valuable insight into interesting ways to serve food. If something captures my imagination I make a mental note and then flagrantly copy what I have seen! I have no idea why some of the tricks of the trade work so well because what your food is served on or in shouldn’t really make that much difference but it does.
Jars and Buckets
There is a wonderful gastropub that I visit where the chef seems particularly adept at creating quirky ways to serve food that make eating there a genuine delight. The food isn’t bad either! Relishes are served in miniature jam jars which I think is really cool and after sampling the rather excellent chilli jam I felt compelled to invest in a few dinky little jars myself.
The first time I was served fries in a little metal bucket I was genuinely excited. I don’t even like fries but I thought the bucket was a great idea. It was a technique which clearly proved to be universally popular as now it is impossible to order fries or calamari in some places without the appearance of one of those buckets. Nonetheless they are undeniably cool and I want some!
Slates and Boards
One concept which has taken off everywhere is the use of slates and boards instead of plates. I first encountered this idea more than a decade ago in a cellar restaurant in Austria. I ordered one of those sampling platters that always look so tempting and the enormous meal was presented to me on a wooden board. I loved the idea immediately and now have a great selection of boards which are wonderful for informal meals and food for sharing. That meal in Austria should have been billed as a sharing platter as I think I am still trying to work off the weight I gained trying to eat it!
Slate, marble and granite are interesting options for more formal occasions. I haven’t ventured into this territory yet but I think I should. Indeed anything which is relatively flat with a great look or interesting texture is worth experimenting with and can turn what looks like a run of the mill dish into a very exciting prospect.
I am always encountering new ways to serve food but my favourite accessories remain my rustic bowls and platters. I stumbled across a local artisan in Piran, Slovenia and as soon as I entered her shop I fell in love with her work. I am busy assembling a collection of pieces from two of her ranges which perfectly compliment the rustic nature of much of my cooking. These wonderful ceramics are far from revolutionary but I love them. I guess that the right means of presentation for food is simply the one that you love and it doesn’t matter why.
Article by Sally Stacey