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Five Tips For Pretty Food Plating

Anyone who's ever watched Top Chef, flipped through a food magazine, or eaten at a fancy restaurant understands the importance of plating food. First impressions are important, and the way your meal is presented can determine whether it's considered mere grub or totally gourmet. But you don't have to be a pro to create a pretty plate. Here are five simple tips to making restaurant-worthy plates at home.

  • Use large plates. Crowded food looks messy, so give your dishes room to breath. Negative space on a plate looks elegant, and leaving room between each item gives the individual components more oomph.
  • Opt for neutral china. White, bone, and other neutral plates will complement pretty much any color of food, while busier patterns can sometimes clash.

For a few more suggestions,


  • Make pretty piles. If you don't want to separate the individual components, try stacking them in a tidy tower.
  • Create a clock. If you're serving a protein, starch, and veggies, arrange the three items according to the face of a clock, with starch at 10, meat around 2, and veggies below 9 and 3. Make sure one of the items acts as a focal point on the plate.
  • Keep it clean. When working with wet ingredients, try to keep the plate as clear and smudge-free as possible. If you drizzle sauces, control the distribution so that it's artful, not icky.

Got your own tips for creating pretty plates? Share them in the comments below.

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
arcticpuppet arcticpuppet 8 years
I meant big, obviously!!! Bug? Where'd that come from!?!
arcticpuppet arcticpuppet 8 years
The white square plates/bowls always look best, especially when they're bug. It always looks expensive and modern!! I like to always have my food look good. My family laughs at me all the time, but I just love the visual stimulation along with the taste and smell to make my meals yummy!!!
xojennifer xojennifer 8 years
I totally agree about the plain plates. I have plain, white, beautiful plates. I find plain plates are the most beautiful haha. I find they make any meal look a billion times better: even burger and fries.
hippiecowgirl hippiecowgirl 8 years
I break one of those rules every time I serve something. Our plates are anything but plain.
aphill4 aphill4 8 years
As much as I appreciate plating when I know someone has put a terrific effort into it, I risk soundind like an Okie by saying that I normally don't care how the food is arranged, just as long as the food itself looks good (you CAN tell, even in the worst plating situation). It's all going in the same place anyway, right?
shoneyjoe shoneyjoe 8 years
More often than not, I pile food into a bowl. It's not pretty, but I make up for it by making sure the food's not very nutritious either.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Sometimes, for fun, I like to do that thing where you pile the food up in a skinny little tower right in the middle of the plate and leave the rest of the plate empty except for a few drizzles of sauce. It cracks my fiance up when I do that with grilled cheese (I'll cut it into little tiny squares to achieve the tower effect).
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