In today’s age we live in a world of accessibility and technology. This has created a lifestyle where people are constantly trying to be innovative, fresh, original and creative more than we ever. A simple snap, picture, tag or mention can go along way. These shared images travel world-wide which has created a movement for people to truly express themselves in whatever passion fulfills their hearts.
My passion has always been shared through food, which brings us together in every culture around the world. Food can be simple, elegant, strange, innovative, and down right mind blowing, but the real beauty behind it is that it can be shared across the world at our fingertips. This has helped me develop my skills as a chef and I want to share with you some of my designs so you can achieve your culinary goals as well.
My journey as a chef has been full of excitement, growth, change and creativity. In this article I want to share some modern plating techniques that can elevate your dishes to that “next” level presentation. People always assume fine dining can only be achieved by world class chefs, but it only takes practice, patience, and passion. The three P’s, which were taught to me by my father have carried me along way throughout life.
In the photo below, I’ll break down each of the designs and the level of difficulty. The key to doing any of these plating designs is to use a consistent and thick puree/vinaigrette. You want it to coat the back of a spoon but not completely drip off. A good example a lot of people can relate to is the consistency of Hersey’s chocolate. I prefer sauces to be a touch thicker than Heresy’s, however you can even use that to practice some of these designs!
The tools I used for these designs are a squeeze bottle, cake spinner, off-set spatula, teaspoon, dinner spoon (pictured above). The vinaigrette I used is a mango vinaigrette. I’ll go over each plate starting from the top from left to right.
Remember to never be intimated or doubt yourself, when I first started plating, I could only dream of achieving the level of skill I have obtained now. We all start somewhere and if you have a good mindset and the Three P’s you can achieve anything!
Classic Dot work
This is used by placing your liquid in a squeeze bottle. Place the tip on the plate and squeeze gently until a dot is formed. Release your hand so the liquid contracts and move down the plate creating any size dots you desire. Difficulty Easy.
This is created by using that same squeeze bottle and a cake spinner. Place a towel on the spinner so the plate stays in place. Spin it using enough power to get about 15-20 rotations on the place. Practice this 1st until you are comfortable. Once it starts spinning start in the center and continuously squeeze the bottle while moving your hand away slowly towards the end of the plate. You will have to work fast and follow the rotation speed of the plate while squeezing constantly but not too much to create inconsistent lines. This one will take some practice but is absolutely eye catching and appealing. Difficulty Hard.
Spoon Swipe and Dot work
You will get to hone-in on your dot work here and learn how handy a teaspoon can be. Place your liquid in the spoon and fill to your desire. For my presentation, the teaspoon is filled about three quarters full. Place your spoon on the plate round side down and then tilt to where the liquid will come out. Swipe rapidly by pulling the spoon towards your body to create this fast drag effect which leaves a “tail” of the sauce you used. The faster you swipe the longer the design will be. Practice different amounts of liquid and speed of the swipe. Difficulty Medium.
This one will use the squeeze bottle and you will make 5 dots on the far left or right of the plate. Create different sizes to make the desired effect and then hold the plate up and let gravity do the work for you. Difficulty Easy.
The Splatter Effect
This one will look different every time and that is what makes it so fun. Use your dinner spoon here and fill your spoon with any level of liquid. Working fast, you will throw the spoon down on the plate and create this random yet beautiful effect. Difficulty Easy.
This effect will require the off-set spatula and either the squeeze bottle or a spoon. I prefer the bottle because it makes it easier to make a thick line of sauce. After you squeeze the sauce in one concentrated area you will use the spatula and swipe to the right gently, you just want to move the sauce along, do not push it down. Tilt the spatula gently so you are only using the edge which will help you from pushing it down too hard. Difficulty Medium.
Spoon Swipe Cross
Same steps you followed in step 3, but this time just cross the lines to create a different effect. Difficulty Medium.
The Half Spiral
The only difference between this and the spiral is you will place plastic wrap on half the plate and follow the same guidelines as step 2. Simply peel the plastic away and now you created an effect that can really blow people away. Difficulty Hard.
My signature design
I will not go into too much detail here but if you have mastered everything above, this one should be easy to figure out. The real message here is by this time you should develop your own signature design and the possibilities are endless!!
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About The Author
Hello, my name is Greg Greenfield, a Tucson, Arizona native who is passionate about food, teaching, and creating everlasting culinary experiences for people around the world. I graduated culinary school in 2011 and started off in the hotel industry right out of college. I would say I am a mix of everything when it comes to cooking and shine in southern food & southwest cuisine—but have a strong passion for Asian fusion. I was also trained in classic French cooking and I incorporate that into many dishes as well. Overall, I think the key to becoming a great chef, cook or any culinary warrior is to be versatile in many flavors and cuisines so you can constantly stay fresh as well as provide an amazing unique culinary experience to anyone.