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The art of plating: Our 7 favourite food presentation techniques

Plate presentation is one of the most vital ingredients in ensuring your diners have an outstanding experience. It’s part of what will set your restaurant apart from your competitors and it will ensure your meals not only taste great, but look great too; playing on all of your customers senses. The art of plating is tricky to master, but these seven food presentation techniques should get you on your way.


Scaling is one of the most popular food presentation techniques in the catering industry and although primarily used in fine dining establishments, the trend is now being welcomed across the wider catering collective. This intricate technique requires skill and plenty of practice but when done right, produces a delicate and exquisite result which will blow your diners away.

The effect is created by carefully layering food of similar shape and size, to produce a scale like effect. We’ve seen this plating technique used by many chefs, but one of our favourites is this dish by Anthony Raffo, who used a combination of pickled beets and apples to create the scale effect.

plate presentation

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One hue

2018 is set to see the ‘one hue’ plate presentation technique sweep the catering industry. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, chefs have been using food of similar tones and matching it with their tableware to create a one tone look. This technique provides an outstanding, luxurious finish which is sure to set your restaurant apart.

As the trend continues to pick up pace within the industry, some chefs, such as Connor J Lowery, are already paving the way. Check out this awesome dish he created using one of our very own plates, utilising black tones to create a unified look.

food presentation techniques

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Arrangements in odd numbers

Arranging your dish so that elements are presented in odd numbers is an age-old trick of the industry. This food presentation technique creates an un-balance which is visually captivating to the diner. Whether you arrange in threes, fives, sevens or more, your dish is almost certainly going to be more aesthetically pleasing when elements appear in odd numbers.

Although superbly used by many chefs, we particularly like how Scott of Crockers String uses three simple elements in this dish to create an outstanding appearance.

plate presentation

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Centre your meal

Perhaps the simplest plating presentation technique to ensure your food looks of the highest quality, is to centre your meal. Don’t feel like you must use the entirety of the plate, having smaller portions centred in the middle of your plate is the easiest way to secure a luxurious feel.

Many chefs make the technique work. But we particularly like how Luke Fouracre has used this method in this dish. He’s also used one of our plates to create this look, with the ‘Soho’ finish.

food presentation techniques

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Keep it simple

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when plating your dish is over garnishing the plate. Sometimes the best plate presentation, is the simplest. Plate up your meal and only add garnish, sauces and extra elements where they will add to the dish.

A chef who does this well is Robby Jenks. As shown in the dish below, Robby keeps dishes simple and doesn’t over garnish which creates real impact. We’ve had the pleasure of providing Robby with tableware for his restaurants and here he uses one of more uniquely shaped bowls.

plate presentation

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Contrasting textures

Using food items with contrasting textures is a particularly good food presentation technique for drawing in the eye. The striking balance between soft, hard, rough and smooth textures is not only satisfying for the palette, but for the eye too.

If you want to go the extra mile and really impress your diners, try to ensure every bite or segment of the meal includes contrasting textures.

Our long term customer and marvelled chef, James Cochran, used this technique particularly well. Just check out the dish below where is utilises a mixture of soft and tough textures. Again, James uses a Surrey Ceramic plate in finish ‘Tempest’.

food presentation techniques

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Add height, not width

Give your dish an instantaneous sense of luxury by building your dish with height, rather than width. Stacking and layering elements of your dish can make the plate look more interesting, giving the meal more depth and luring in the eye of your diner.

Building a dish with height rather than width is a great plate presentation skill and this will immediately be apparent to the diner. We love how Marc Guibert builds height in his dish below by carefully stacking and layering the elements.

plate presentation

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We hope this plate presentation guide provides you with enough food presentation techniques to create new, innovative and stunning dishes. But remember that plate presentation isn’t the only thing that will help you make an impact. Instead, you must also consider how your tableware matches the look and taste of your dish.

At Surrey Ceramics, we provide bespoke tableware solutions to restaurants, hotels and the wider catering industry. With over 200 products and 30 glazes to choose from, we can help you choose a combination that will bring your meal to life.

We’ve recently had the pleasure of working with Oblix, The Find and Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen (click the name to read the case study). If you too want tableware solutions to enhance your restaurant, get in touch with our friendly team today or browse our website and make an enquiry.

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