Whether you're entertaining for a crowd, or sitting down for a quiet weeknight meal, it's worth making your food look good. Studies have shown that artistically presented food actually tastes better, and that when you eat something that you truly enjoy, your body actually makes more efficient use of its nutrients.
As the writers behind Luvo's The Fresh Blog put it, good plating sends the message that the food matters, and so do you. If you're looking to step up your food styling skills, here are a few pointers from them on to do it.
- Start with a clean slate. A bright white plate is always a good place to start. Anything too decorative detracts from the food itself.
- Give your food some space. Only about two-thirds of your plate should be filled; one guideline for a nicely-balanced plate is 50 per cent veggies, 25 per cent protein, and 25 per cent starch.
- If you're roasting or searing meat, give it a rest before serving it. This rule particularly applies to cuts of steak; allowing it to rest for 10 minutes allows the beef to reabsorb juices, which prevents your plate from looking like a murder scene.
- Contrast matters. Try to pair contrasting colours with one another; the same goes for textures, sizes and shapes. Start with a stark white plate, then incorporate brightly-coloured produce, creamy sauces with crispy vegetables, tall stalks of asparagus with short, squat slices of steak, etc.
- Don't pile on the pasta. Heaping servings of spaghetti unceremoniously onto your plate can make your dish look like a big mess. This short video from PureWow demonstrates how to create attractive, 1-cup servings of pasta using a two-prong meat fork and a serving spoon, and it's an easy trick for any dinner party.
- Always garnish: Fresh herbs, a sprinkle of spice, toasted breadcrumbs, or even a citrus twist can be a nice touch. Drizzles, dollops and swirls can add flair too, but use them sparingly; go overboard, and your plate will just wind up looking like an eight-year-old's art project.
And last but not least, transfer anything pre-made out of a box and onto a clean plate. In my experience, eating off attractive dishware always leaves me feeling more satisfied, even if I know the food came straight out of a takeaway container.