Adding a simple garnish to your dishes can turn an ordinary meal into something spectacular and memorable. While there is nothing wrong with serving your meals straight on the plate, learning to dress them up with a few simple garnishes can be a lot of fun. There is an old saying amongst professional chefs that runs along the line of “The eye eats first.” What this statement really means is that the appearance of any dish you serve is likely to have a major impact on the overall opinion of those to whom it is being served.
Not Just for Professional Chefs
While it is true that professional chefs spend a very long time mastering the skills of creating garnishes and plate presentation, you can master the basics with a little practice and attention to detail. It is your job as the chef (cook) to make sure your guests become excited at the prospect of eating whatever you choose to serve. In the professional kitchen the plate of food you will be serving is seen as the picture and the rim of the plate is its frame.
Your plates should be colorful, for example a plate that consists of two or three colors is far more interesting than one that contains a single color. Consider this, most meats are singular in color, brown, tan or white, adding a little color to the plate will make the entire picture look far more appetizing. A perfect example of this is the addition of a simple sprig of green parsley or leaf of kale can make all the difference. Many chefs also believe that choosing vegetables of different shapes or use varying cuts to add more eye appeal to their plates.
When choosing garnishes for your plates, try to choose edible garnishes that share at least some kinship with the dish you are serving. They need to be highly visible, but at the same time “make sense” to the palate. Also bear in mind that you need to use the right size of plate, if you pack too much food on a small plate, it will look overcrowded and unappealing. At the same time if your plate is too big, the food will look lost and your portions too small, no matter how big they are.
Here are five very popular forms of garnish to consider: