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What is plating and why is it a key element in gastronomy?

The modern culinary landscape is primarily driven by visual content on sites like Instagram, Pinterest and others. Engagement on these platforms accounts for a large part of the interest driving customers to various types of culinary businesses today. Obviously, the importance of a visually appealing product is greater than ever. Whether it’s a beautifully presented dish in a fancy dining establishment, a savory cross-section of a croissant or sandwich, or even a latte art, many studies have been conducted to investigate the importance of aesthetic appeal as a determinant of the overall dining experience. The field has been extensively researched from a variety of approaches, ranging from quantitative and qualitative customer preferences to recognition of aesthetic trends.

Read more: Appetite!

Context is key to understanding how food presentation influences the end customer. Consider fast food and fine dining through the lens of symmetry and expressiveness as a major visual aspect to demonstrate this. In a fine dining restaurant, a complex dish consisting of a variety of expertly prepared foods need not be symmetrical to be appealing to a customer. Negative space, random splashes of color from sauces and infused oils, and even varied shapes put together in a very expressive way can be used on the plate. Expressive plating is used in fine dining restaurants to generate a sense of excitement and surprise, as well as to tell a story, where the plate can also be seen as part of the composition. In contrast, traditional veneer is used in an ordinary restaurant to provide a sense of familiarity and comfort to the customer, and the plate is considered a functional item. Going clockwise, you can find a piece of meat, vegetables, and a carb like mashed potatoes or bread.

One of the best-known dishes in the world of fine dining is “oops I dropped the lemon pie” from Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy; considered the #1 restaurant in the world at one time, it seems to capture the relevance of an experimental and expressive approach to veneer styling.

According to a study published in the Food Quality and Preference Journal, “classic” aesthetics are favored in typical casual restaurants with symmetrically arranged plates, while the reverse is true in contemporary fine dining establishments.

Beyond personal preference, the impact of visual display can influence things like portion size, flavor, and even nutritional value. A well-stocked dish can make food more appealing, which can improve its taste. Another study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference in 2014 found that when food was presented in a visually appealing and arranged way, participants rated the food as tasting better than when presented randomly. A study published in the journal “Appetite” in 2011 found that visual cues such as the use of brightly colored and brightly colored fruits and vegetables can promote the idea that a dish is more nutritious and healthy. Additionally, the way foods are presented in terms of serving size can influence how they are perceived. According to a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2020, presenting a dish on a small plate can make the portion size seem smaller and more reasonable, making it appear healthier.

The history of plating dates back to the 19th century, when French chefs began to focus on food presentation and plate layout. The classic veneer style, which emphasizes symmetry, balance and the use of traditional techniques, was formed with this.

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With the rise of new cuisine in the 20th century, contemporary plating began to emerge, emphasizing the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and emphasizing the natural qualities of food. This style of plate is characterized by its simplicity and minimalism, emphasizing the quality of the ingredients rather than the presentation.

Veneer has evolved in recent years, becoming even more imaginative and artistic.

Modern trends include the use of unusual and unexpected ingredient combinations, highly expressive and experimental plating techniques based on ideas such as negative space, an emphasis on local and seasonal produce, and the use of natural and sustainable materials.

As a key part of the overall dining experience, plating has become an essential feature of fine dining. It has become an art form that allows chefs to express their creativity and technique while telling a story through the cuisine they serve.