Written by Chef Jessica Bryan
Just like the real estate saying of “location, location, location!” One of the more important things about the food scene is the way a dish looks. Fresh, local ingredients, tasty and flavorful preparation, and proper cooking techniques are all also important. But the way the food is plated can take things to the next level. One can serve a wonderfully delicious meal, but if the food is just plopped on a plate it may not look as appetizing.
I once worked at a summer camp and retreat center where the food service manager’s favorite saying was, “It's all about the pretty.” She often reminded the other shift supervisor and I that even though we were cranking out food for hundreds in a slightly rustic setting, it was still important to present attractive and inviting meals.
At Coho Restaurant, every little detail is important. Whether it's the source of the fresh seasonal produce or the time invested in the in-house smoking, fermenting, pickling, and preserving so that every element is as fresh as possible. And once all that work is done, service begins and everything comes together for a special island dining experience. But if Chefs Ryan and Tim then just scooped all the various elements of a dish on to a plate willy nilly, diners would be rather underwhelmed. It would be akin to training for and then running a marathon only to stop and head home ten yards from the finish line. You have to finish the race.
Some elements to keep in mind when plating food or even when serving dishes family style at home are: balance, focal point, color, height and “pizzazz”. Even mom's casserole surprise can be dressed up with the addition of a fresh colorful garnish.
Is the focal point a nice cut of meat or some beautiful heirloom vegetables? Start there, and then think of what else will be served with it. Do you want to stack the various elements? Height is an easy way to elevate the look of a dish. (Pun intended :-)) when working with lovely local produce, color is a good way to visually entice the appetite. Add a finishing touch of herbs, edible flower petals, sprinkle of spices or a drizzle of a colorful sauce. These can all give a plate that little something extra.
So go ahead and be creative. Turn your next meal into an edible work of art!
Some of our Examples
Take the Next Step
Want some hands-on practice with a professional? Our Coho Restaurant team is offering cooking classes this spring called Kitchen Boot Camp. Have fun while learning the basics of cooking. Chef Ryan, Chef Tim and myself will offer 3 classes on Sunday afternoons – take one or all three – perfect for vacation or anytime. These are small intimate hands-on interactive sessions that will demystify the how-to’s and answers the all-important whys. You’ll leave with new skills, food in your belly, recipes to share, plus a $10 gift certificate to dinner!
Sunday, March 10, 2018 – The Lowly Vegetable: Creative Ways to Use the Local Bounty (Chef Tim)Sunday, April 7. 2018 – Fresh Seafood Basics (Chef Ryan)Sunday, May 5, 2018 – Where’s the Beef? Plant-based Vegan Basics (Chef Jessica)
Classes are 3 – 6 p.m. – $75/session – 3 sessions for $200. Sign up for all 3 classes and receive a $25 dinner voucher at Coho Restaurant. Maximum 4 participants. You will be standing, cooking for most of the class. Please wear comfortable, closed-to shoes. Call 360.378.6330 to save your spot!
Here’s what on the schedule for fall:All About DuckBaking BasicsAll About Lamb
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